A Chicago woman returning to her North Side apartment Sunday took the elevator to her floor without knowing that a fire was raging.
When the elevator door opened, Shantel McCoy, 32, was hit with a "superheated blast" and died. The marketing executive, who had moved to Chicago a year ago, was found in the elevator by firefighters.
The fire, which broke out on the 12th floor of the building at around 2 a.m., started in the apartment of a couple who escaped with their dog. Unfortunately for McCoy, they left their front door open, and when the elevator door opened, she was hit directly with the fire. If the door had been closed, McCoy would have survived.
"If the fire is in your apartment, we tell people to get out and close the door. Each unit is a compartment to itself," Chicago Fire Department Chief Joe Roccasalva told NBC. "The door to the apartment where the fire started was not closed, and the superheated toxic gases all got into the hallway there. 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."
McCoy's devastated mother was unable to contain herself as she heard about her daughter's death. "She's my only daughter and I have one son, so we were very close," she told Fox Chicago Sunday. "I spoke to her yesterday evening and I asked her are you home, and she said, 'Mom I do rest sometimes' … but the last communication we had was 9:00 last night."
Nine others were injured in this incident.
If there is one takeaway from this story, it's that if there is a fire in your apartment, you must close the door behind you. You may be safe yourself, but think about other people who may end up in the line of fire.
Our condolences to the McCoy family.