MOKENA, Ill. (CBS) — Authorities have identified the elderly couple who died when a fire gutted a large section of their home in Mokena on Wednesday.
Firefighters pulled 81-year-old Edwin Pauls and 80-year-old Arline Pauls from the burning home after a neighbor called 911 around 3:20 a.m. when he awoke to find the home already engulfed in heavy flames and smoke.
More than 40 firefighters from eight departments responded to the scene near Catalpa and Magnolia, and when they arrived, a Mokena police officer told crews he’d already tried to get in the home, but was beaten back by intense fire and smoke.
Firefighters were able to get inside, and located the couple in a bedroom, but by then there was nothing firefighters or paramedics could to to revive them.
Initial indications from an autopsy showed the couple suffered smoke inhalation, although a final cause of death has not yet been determined, pending further tests and police reports.
The cause of the fire was under investigation, but firefighters did not believe it was suspicious. One fire official said the fire apparently started in a bedroom of the one-story frame house.
Neighbors said Edwin Pauls suffered from emphysema and used an oxygen tank.
The police officer who tried to get into the home was treated for smoke inhalation at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, and was recovering at home.