Smoky apartment fire kills woman in the city


A 45-year-old woman died today in a smoky, one-alarm fire in a three-story apartment building in the 1200 block of W. North Ave.

The fire started at 10:21 a.m. in the kitchen of a third-floor apartment, fire investigators aid.

The victim's name was not immediately released by investigators.

A fire department spokesman said the woman had been trapped in an area filled with dense smoke.

The spokesman, Battalion Chief Hector L. Torres, said investigators determined that the fire began on the kitchen stove, but were uncertain whether the woman was cooking or using the stove for heat.

No one else was in the apartment at the time of the fire, which caused $12,500 in damage to the building that houses eight tenants in four apartments.

As firefighters tossed a refrigerator, mattresses, dressers and charred clothing from the third-story windows, another resident of the building, Sean Deanes, 25, looked on sadly.

"I saw the smoke coming out of her apartment," said Mr. Deanes, who lives on the same floor as the victim and said he tried to save her.

"I went in. I got to the bathroom, but the smoke was so thick, it burned my eyes out. I was vomiting. She was . . . the best friend a person could have."

Carolyn Whitfield, 31, who lives a few doors away, said she saw flames shooting from the window of her friend's apartment. Ms. Whitfield said she ran out to the street.

"I told a guy, 'The house is on fire,' " she said. "I saw people trying to kick the door open, and then I saw people running out. It happened so fast."

Ms. Whitfield said she was shaken by the sudden loss of her friend.

"You see somebody one day, and they are gone tomorrow," she said.

Chief Torres said the fatal fire was the city's 12th this year.

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