November 21, 2005.
CHICAGO -- A blind woman died Sunday after accidentally setting herself on fire while cooking in her North Side apartment.
Irene Kawalec, 58, was cooking on an electric stove in her third-floor apartment when her clothes caught fire, police News Affairs Officer Kristina Schuler said. Kawalec lived in the at 3300 block of West Maypole Avenue.
She was unable to put out the flames so she ran into the hallway of the building and screamed for help, and neighbors extinguished her burning clothes, Schuler said.
Kawalec was later pronounced dead at a local hospital after suffering burns throughout 90 percent of her body.
"She was a sweet girl, who kept to herself," said Gary Barlow, a neighbor of the victim.
Barlow heard Kawalec's screams and helped her put out the fire on her clothes. He said the victim looked severely burned after he helped put out the fire, and that she laid on the ground not moving until police and other officials arrived on the scene.
"It was the saddest thing I have ever seen, just watching her screaming and burning," Barlow said. "I will have nightmares about it for the rest of my life."
Information provided by City News Service.
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