CHICAGO — An 81-year-old woman was killed in a house fire in Avalon Park.
Officials said flames broke out at a home on the 8200 block of South Cornell Avenue just before 2 a.m. Tuesday. Firefighters said the woman was trying to escape the home before collapsing in the kitchen.
The woman was taken out of the home with severe burns, police said. She was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center where she later died from her injuries.
Neighbors identified the woman as Rebecca Whitted, who say she lived alone and had medical conditions including problems with her vision.
The fire is still under investigation, but officials said the home did not have any working smoke detectors. According to authorities, a wiring issue likely caused the accidental blaze.
Officials said the fire may have started in the home’s basement and quickly moved throughout the home.
The victim’s caregiver spoke exclusively with WGN News, saying the loss she feels is ‘indescribable.’
“It’s a big heartbreak,” said the woman, who did not wish to be named. “I’ve been knowing her for over 30 something years, looking after her like a grandma.”
Whitted’s caregiver says she called 911 after she smelled smoke.
“I opened up the front door and that’s when I saw flames coming out the window,” she said.
However, she say she knew in her heart it was too late.
“She was a sweetheart,” the caregiver said. “She was spicy at times. She was a sweetheart at times. She enjoyed “In the Heat of the Night.” As long as she had the “In the Heat of the Night” and her court shows on she was happy.”