High Rise Tragedy

Monday, January 9, 2012 - 9:46am

Woman unknowingly takes elevator into heart of Chicago apartment building fire.

A Chicago woman is dead after unknowingly riding an elevator into the heart of an apartment building fire.

Shantel McCoy, 32, who lived on the 12th floor of the building at North Lake Shore Drive, apparently got on the elevator with a bag of takeout food to go home, not knowing a fire was raging above her.

The fire broke out on the 12th floor of a building at around 2 a.m., said Chicago Fire Department Chief Joe Roccasalva.

The fire also injured nine other people, including two firefighters.

"When the first companies arrived on the scene, they had fire blowing out of the 12th floor window," Roccasalva said.

The fire started in an occupied apartment on the 12th floor.

"The door to the apartment where the fire started was not closed, and the super-heated toxic gasses all got into the hallway there," Roccasalva said. "The heat in there is probably 1,500 to 2,000 degrees at the ceiling. And if she was standing in the elevator, she probably got it full, right on."

The residential high-rise building was built before 1975.

It does not have a connected system of fire alarms and no sprinklers except in the garage, the fire captain said.

That means when one smoke alarm goes off, others in the building will not necessarily do so.

People who live above and below the 12th floor confirmed that they did not hear fire alarms going off.

Roccasalva said that because the elevators would not all return to the lobby when crews arrived, firefighters had to lug their equipment up 12 flights of stairs to attack the fire.

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