Woman Smoking in Home Dies in North Side Fire
IRVING PARK — A 73-year-old woman smoking in her living room died after a cigarette caused her Irving Park home to catch fire Thursday morning, authorities said.
Firefighters arrived at the scene about 11:10 a.m. and found Patricia Burns inside the burning home in the 3300 block of North Kedvale Avenue, authorities said.
Wendel Baumstark, 46 and a 30-year resident of the block, said Burns lived on the first-floor of the three-unit building that counted other relatives, including Burns' son, as a resident.
A relative who was staying in the second floor noticed smoke and pounded on Burns' door to see if she was alright, Baumstark said. That relative called Burns' son, who wasn't home at the time.
The son, in turn, called Baumstark for help.
"He said, 'My mom's in the house. You got to get her out,' " Baumstark said.
Baumstark ran out of his home three doors north of the fire and saw several fire trucks.
"As soon as I started walking over, the windows blew out," Baumstark said. "I told the firefighters that someone was inside."
Baumstark said that Burns was a lovely woman who "smoked like a chimney." In recent years, Burns had been frail and often breathed with a oxygen tank out of her living room.
"She was a great person. You would always see her at neighborhood block parties," Baumstark said.
Burns was found in the living room, said officer Daniel O'Brien, a Chicago Police spokesman.
At least one dog died in the blaze, O'Brien said.
The fire department's media office confirmed the preliminary cause of the fire was "smoking materials."
The oxygen tank didn't have anything to do with sparking the fire, the fire department said.
Burns was pronounced dead at the scene about an hour later, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.