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Woman Found Dead in Jefferson Park Fire

By Emily Morris | January 24, 2013 7:09am | Updated on January 24, 2013 12:14pm

JEFFERSON PARK — A woman was found dead on the scene of a North Side fire Thursday morning, officials said.

Firefighters were called to a house in the 5000 block of North Mobile Avenue at 5:51 a.m., according to the Chicago Fire Department's media office.

A 59-year-old woman was found dead in the house, which did not appear to have smoke detectors, the fire department said.

The woman was later identified as Barbara Gagliano by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

Thomas Baker, 31, who is staying with his family next door, said he was awoken by the frightening smell.

"I was sleeping and smelled smoke," said Baker, a Chicago Police officer, "I hobbled down the stairs thinking it was in our house."

Baker said he and his father stepped out onto their front porch, where they saw the house on fire.

"We saw flames shooting out of their front window. We don't know how the fire started," Baker said, adding that firefighters handled flames quickly.

Baker said the woman had a male roommate, and he got in touch with the roommate's daughters to see if he was all right. They told him their father had spent the night with his family at the time of the fire, and they said the woman was likely there alone, Baker said.

The woman was "a nice lady who was partially disabled" and had been in a bad car accident 10 to 15 years ago, Baker said.

"She was the type of lady that anytime you saw her, she'd say 'hi' and you'll say 'hi' back," Baker added.

Officials said they were investigating the cause of the fire.

An autopsy has not yet been completed to determine the woman's cause of death.

This blaze is among a rash of January fires, most recently the rekindling of a fire in a Bridgeport warehouse that was engulfed in flames just one day earlier, as well as a fire that claimed the lives of two men on the South Side earlier this week.