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Elderly woman hurt, but commended, in Aurora fire

Updated: February 22, 2013 6:32AM

AURORA — An elderly woman was hospitalized suffering from smoke inhalation after a fire broke out in her first-floor apartment, Aurora fire officials said.

“She tried to extinguish the fire instead of leaving the building,” Battalion Chief Robert Wirtz said.

Aurora firefighters were dispatched at 2:40 p.m. Sunday to 2101 Best Place for a fire that appeared to have started in a living room area of one of the studio apartments in the 24-unit complex.

Firefighters extinguished the fire within the first 10 minutes, Wirtz said. The blaze was contained to the one apartment, but there was smoke damage on the first floor that spread to the second floor, Wirtz said. People evacuated safely, but firefighters did escort some tenants out of the second floor as a precaution.

“We had a lot of smoke-related evacuation to be concerned with,” Wirtz said.

“The building has had so many false alarms some people didn’t immediately get out — this was not a false alarm,” the battalion chief said.

Wirtz did commend the elderly woman for thinking “smart” when she closed her apartment door behind her when she did leave the building, which prevented the fire from spreading out into the hallway.

“She did a good thing — it could have been far worse.”

The building is owned by the Illinois Housing Authority of Chicago, Wirtz said. He said many of the tenants were not home at the time of the fire, but one family that was escorted out to safety was a mother with her newborn and 3-year-old child.

“We try to protect in place, but in this type of weather we needed to get them in a warm shelter.”

The apartment unit was declared uninhabitable. Thirty firefighters were on the scene. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

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