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Smoking materials caused NW Side fire that killed elderly woman

Smoking materials started a fire that killed an elderly woman Tuesday afternoon in the Portage Park neighborhood on the Northwest Side, authorities said.

Firefighters responded to the blaze in a two-story home in the 5200 block of West Melrose about 2 p.m., Fire Media Affairs spokesman Will Knight said.

Shirley Ryan, 72, was found dead in the first-floor living area, according to fire officials and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

An autopsy Wednesday found Ryan died of carbon monoxide toxicity and smoke inhalation from a fire started by careless use of smoking materials, the medical examiner’s office said. Heart disease and dementia were listed as secondary factors, and the death was ruled an accident.

No other injuries were reported and the blaze was extinguished quickly. Firefighters did not hear any working smoke detectors when they arrived at the scene, Knight said.