CHICAGO (WLS) -- An 81-year-old woman died after an early morning house fire Tuesday in Stony Island Park. Chicago fire officials said when they tried to access nearby fire hydrants, they were frozen.
Chicago police and fire officials responded just before 2 a.m. to the 8200-block of South Cornell Avenue for a reported house fire, but when they arrived, they realized the nearby fire hydrants were frozen.
"As I come downstairs to see what's going on I look outside and I could see the firemen cutting open the door," said neighbor Derrick Goodloe.
Goodloe said his only thought was "hoping that my neighbor was safe."
But sadly, an 81-year-old woman, who neighbors said lived alone, was transported to the University of Chicago Medical Center in 'very critical' condition, where she later died of her injuries.
She was found in the kitchen, just steps from the exit.
"It brought tears to my eyes and I know that she was alone. So it's just sad," said neighbor Felicia Anderson-Golatte.
According to the Chicago Fire Department, there were no working smoke detectors in the home. When firefighters arrived, nearby hydrants were frozen, hampering their efforts to battle the blaze.
"That becomes a bigger challenge for the fire department," said CFD Deputy District Chief Daniel Torrise. "If you get one hydrant frozen, sometimes you get a second hydrant frozen. So that delays the amount of water that the engine companies would be able to use to fight the fire."
The frigid temperatures making it very difficult to put out the flames.
"Yes it was because I saw them running hoses everywhere all the trucks off their trucks," Derrick Goodloe said. "My driveway is iced up right now from the water. But they were able to contain the fire which is good."
Fire crews knocked on doors in the aftermath, handing out free smoke detectors to people in the area. Something Larissa Goodloe is happy to see.
"People don't have enough smoke detectors," she said. "And if you do, get your batteries changed. It's something you have to do every year. We have quite a few in our home because we have children."
CFD officials said the fire might have started in the basement. The cause of this fire is still under investigation. But the Chicago Fire Department said a smoke alarm could have provided more warning to escape.