An elderly couple died in a house fire in the Old Irving Park neighborhood of Chicago’s Northwest Side
Robert Salacha, 85, and his wife, Carol Salacha, 78, were found inside the house and were pronounced dead at the scene, according to authorities and the Cook County Medical Examination Bureau.
Police and neighbors said that their daughter, who was also inside, got off and refused to receive medical care.
The fire broke out at around 9:20 p.m. On the first floor of the house at 4,200 Block North Kildare Street, the building quickly engulfed, according to Chicago fire department officials.
District Vice President Brian McKermeet said the crews “encountered intense fire on the first floor” after receiving reports that the couple had been trapped. While inside, “the fire started to intensify,” and the firefighters retreated outside.
Once the fire was brought under control, McKermit said, a search was carried out and the bodies discovered. Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said Carole Salacha was found on the first floor, and Robert Salacha on the second floor.
An investigation found that Carol Salacha was using supplemental oxygen, according to Langford, and officials believe the cigarette she was smoking caught caught in her. An autopsy carried out on Friday showed that she had died of burns, smoke inhalation and soot inhalation. The report also stated that “the indifferent use of smoking substances” was a factor.
The report said Robert Salacha died of carbon monoxide poisoning and burn injuries. It also indicated that “negligence in using smoking materials” contributed to his death. Both deaths were controlled accidents.
Dozens of onlookers lined the street and peered from their balconies as firefighters grappled with the blaze.
Two neighbors clung to each other, looking in disbelief. The man and woman, who requested anonymity, said they knew the couple and saw their daughter survived the hell of Thanksgiving.
A neighbor said, “Regardless of time, it’s a tragedy.”
By 10:40 PM, the massive fire had turned into rubble, blazing.