WEST GARFIELD PARK — The death of an elderly man in a West Side fire Sunday marked the fourth time in six weeks that the Nelson family has lost a loved one.
Matthew Nelson, 76, died after a fire in his house in the 4200 block of West Van Buren Street Sunday afternoon, officials said. He was sitting upstairs in his wheelchair when a fire started in the kitchen and was unable to get out of the house in time, his family said.
Nelson, a retired crane operator, was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital about 2 p.m., according to the Chicago Fire Department. The house did not have smoke alarms, officials said.
In the afternoon, several family members gathered to salvage any possessions left in the house, where Nelson lived with his wife, two teenagers, three dogs and a cat. His wife Diane Nelson, 63, and children were at a laundromat during the fire. One dog and the cat did not survive.
Larry Nelson, Matthew's son, said three other family members have died since late October — his son, his cousin and his sister-in-law. Larry Nelson's son died in a car accident in October, his cousin from a heart problems and his sister-in-law from an asthma attack.
"I've been through this," Larry Nelson said. "We were all together for my son’s service. Now we’re back here for my father's."
Matthew Nelson was a kind man who loved the blues and owned many CD's, his son said.
Officials are investigating the cause of the fire.