Austin fire kills 2, injures 2

January 4, 2010 3:33:04 PM PST
An early morning fire in Chicago's Galewood neighborhood claimed the lives of a woman and her adult son. Firefighters say one of the victims was wheelchair-bound and couldn't escape the fire. Investigators say the fire was caused by a space heater.

A deadly fire Monday morning in a West Side brick two-flat killed two people. an elderly mother and her son. and put two other family members in a hospital. The family lived in the two-flat for decades and were loved and respected by the neighborhood.

"She was a mother to everyone. Everyone in the neighborhood loved her. She always opened her house to the neighborhood," said Cedric Lott, fire victim.

Seventy-six-year-old Maxine Toledo and her 57-year-old son Joe Lott, who suffered from multiple sclerosis and used a wheelchair, died in the fire in the 1600-block of North McVicker Avenue despite efforts to save them.

Cedric Lott says he was already awake in an upstairs bedroom when the fire erupted in the downstairs apartment of his mother's home.

"There was too much smoke in the house," Lott said.

Eighth Battalion Fire Chief Steve Kieris was one of the first on the scene and he says they found two smoke detectors in the building. Kieris says he spoke to another Toledo son by the name of Calvin and that the fire started in the rear bedroom of the first floor.

"The woman, she was in her bedroom. It was about the middle of the building. When Calvin alerted her, he tried to get to the bed where the one gentleman wasn't able to walk. They were trying to get him in the wheelchair. The smoke overcame them. They were trying to get out. She made it almost to her son's room and was overcome by smoke," said Battalion Chief Steve Kieris, Chicago Fire Department.

The family lived in the home for decades and was an important part of the community.

The Chicago Fire Department personnel were out in the neighborhood Monday afternoon passing out smoke detectors.

Fire investigators say the electric space heater that set off the fire was in the son's -- Joe Lott's -- bedroom. They say it had been placed too close to flammable materials.