‘She was a grandmother to this block’: Fire in West Side home leaves woman dead

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CHICAGO -- An 83-year-old woman described as a "pillar in the community" by neighbors is dead after a fire broke out in her Douglas Park home Sunday afternoon.

Chicago firefighters say the fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. Sunday in Dorsey's home. Gibran Gaither was one of the first to try and help his neighbor and friend.

"I was knocking on the door, ringing both doorbells, I saw the flames and called 911 immediately," Gaither said

Rescue crews responding to the two-flat at 1500 south Central Park found Dorsey Calhoun by a window in her second floor apartment, apparently overcome by smoke. They rushed her to Mount Sinai Hospital, but it was too late.

This disaster not only took her life, but also knocked the wind out of the entire block.

"She was a pillar in the community," neighbor Sutarra Thurmond  said.

The retired school teacher had lived in that apartment for decades, watching generations grow up while raising children and grandchildren of her own.

"She was a grandmother to this block; she was family to us," Gaither said. "She was a great woman; everybody loved her, she loved all our kids, she loved the dogs; she was just a great spirt," Gaither  said.

Firefighters are still trying to find the cause of the fire.

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