81-year-old woman dies in fire in Avalon Park

Fire crews responded to a house fire in the 8200 block of South Cornell Avenue around 2 a.m. Tuesday.

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The site of a house fire in the 8200 block of South Cornell Avenue around 2 a.m. Tuesday.

The site of a house fire in the 8200 block of South Cornell Avenue around 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Chicago Fire Department

An 81-year-old woman died in a house fire in Avalon Park early Tuesday after she tried to escape but collapsed near a door leading outside.

Fire crews found her on the kitchen floor of a home in the 8200 block of South Cornell Avenue, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.

The woman had suffered severe burns and was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she died, police said.

She was identified as Rebecca Whittled, 81, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. Her autopsy results were not immediately released.

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A neighbor on East End Avenue first spotted the fire around 2 a.m. and called 911, Langford said. It’s unclear how long the fire was burning before then.

With temperatures in the single digits, crews encountered one frozen hydrant but were able to access other hydrants that were flowing freely, Langford said.

Crews quickly spotted the woman and removed her, he said. She was in cardiac arrest and had third-degree burns. It appeared that the woman had been burned in another room before collapsing in the kitchen, Langford said.

She lived by herself and had a son who lives out of town, Langford said.

The fire may have started in the basement, Langford said, adding that the most probable cause was a wiring problem.

The home had no smoke detectors, he said.

Contributing: Jermaine Nolen

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