UPDATED 02/09/11 4:41 p.m.
MAYWOOD, Ill. (CBS) — Two women have died after an extra-alarm fire gutted a home in west suburban Maywood early Wednesday.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song and Mike Puccinelli report, the bitter cold made fighting the blaze in the two-story house at 809 S. 16th Ave. difficult.
The fire broke out well before 6 a.m. Heavy smoke could be seen from Chopper 2 HD over the two-story frame house.
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Bernard Dent said he watched as the house next door to his own went up in flames.
“Stuff just falling and cracking; the windows broke out,” Dent said.
Three people were inside the house at the time. A man managed to climb out onto the roof, while a woman shouted for help from her second-floor bedroom.
Police Chief Tim Curry said those two people were rescued from the home’s porch and taken to Loyola University Medical Center, which is also in Maywood. The Cook County medical examiner’s office said the woman was later pronounced dead.
The man was being treated at the Burn Unit there.
A third person, a woman, was trapped in the fire. Her body was later pulled out of the home. Maywood Fire Chief John Cadagin said the woman had been bedridden.
Firefighters could not get to the woman in time.
“By the time they got back there, the whole back end of the building was going, so they had to bail everybody out of there,” Cadagin said.
Family members identified the two victims as Jyl Gail Moss, 55, and her mother, Annie Moss, 74.
“I’m gonna miss the fact that she’s always there whenever you need her,” Gail Moss’s sister Tamara Witcher said.
Witcher said firefighters told her that Gail likely died trying to save her bedridden mother.
“The area that suffered the most damages was her mother’s room, to my knowledge, and unsuccessfully Gail tried to get in to get her to no avail,” Witcher said.
Another of Gail Moss’s sisters, Patricia Johnson, said, “We were just together Saturday, went out to eat. I just can’t believe she’s gone.”
But Johnson said she’s not surprised that Gail appears to have died trying to save her mother.
“I’m gonna miss her and I wish I was there to help her, to try to help her save her mother. That’s what she was trying to do, I know what she was trying to do,” Johnson said. “She just wasn’t strong enough.”
Neighbors were upset upon learning of the deaths.
“I knew them for probably two years. It’s like family to us,” Dent said.
Katherine Dent watched her neighbors’ home burn and says the fireball that awoke her was so intense there was simply nothing that could be done to help. And that’s what hurts the most.
“I’m gonna miss her. I really do miss her.” Katherine Dent said. “If there was anything I could have done, I would have tried to do it. There was nothing I could do.”
Maywood firefighters and a neighborhood agency also had a difficult time in the fire, with high flames, frozen fire hydrants, and dangerous cold.
“The biggest problem was just trying to trudge through all the snow, and the ice and the snow with the freezing temperature; though it did play a part, it just kind of slows you down a little bit,” Cadagin said.
Thankfully, none of the firefighters was injured, the chief said.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.
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