CHICAGO - The Chicago Fire Department determined Wednesday the cause of an apartment fire that injured a 94-year-old woman on the city's South Side.
The elderly woman, who lived in the apartment where the blaze started, managed to walk out of the building safely despite the massive flames - with help from firefighters.
"It was amazing to see the firemen actually walking a 94-year-old woman down the stairs. She was still holding on. Once she got to the front, the police officers saw that she didn't have any shoes, but socks. They picked her up and carried her. It was just a blessing and amazing that she was still alive and survived," said Darrick Jackson, a witness with Emergency Board Up Service in Chicago.
She was rushed to Stroger Hospital, where she remained under observation for minor smoke inhalation. She also had singed hair.
The fire department said the flames were sparked by an overloaded extension cord.
Firefighters responded around 1:30 a.m. to a report of a fire in the 7600-block of South Union Avenue. They used several ladders to battle the blaze at the two-and-a-half-story home.
The family that lives downstairs was able to get out, but they were worried about their upstairs neighbor.
"The people on the first floor were saying, 'Oh, Mrs. Foster is upstairs!' I was just saying if she's up there, she might not have survived," Jackson said.
The downstairs neighbors did not want to go on camera, but spoke to ABC7 Eyewitness News through their front door. They said they were OK.
"Everything is fine, ma'am," one resident said.
The fire department said the flames were put out in about 20 minutes. Neighbors said they believe the fire could have been extinguished even sooner. They said construction on Union blocked the closest fire hydrant and other hydrants were frozen shut.
The fire department said as of 11 a.m., they are still putting together a final report on the fire and would not say if the closest hydrant was blocked.