UPDATE: Woman identified as deceased in overnight South Street blaze

Galesburg firefighters battled an early morning blaze that resulted in the death of an elderly person.

Authorities confirmed 76-year-old Ola M. Cunningham as the deceased. Galesburg Fire Chief Tom Simkins tells Galesburg’s Morning News on WGIL that emergency personnel responded at 1:20 a.m. today to 1145 E. South St. where heavy smoke made visibility difficult.

“As the guys got on South St., four blocks down they had to go real slow because they were afraid they were going to run into the truck in front of them because there was so much smoke on the road you couldn’t see,” Simkins says. “It took them a little extra time to find out which house was on fire and of course when we did it was obvious. It was really chugging smoke throughout and through the windows.”

Though not confirmed, Simkins says the home is likely a total loss.

“Unfortunately, the ceiling had fallen in where we found the victim, so, there was a little extra time to find the victim underneath the ceiling,” Simkins adds. “From what we’ve seen so far, I’m sure the fire had been burning for quite awhile.

Cunningham was pronounced dead in Galesburg Cottage Hospital after being transported from the blaze by Galesburg Hospitals’ Ambulance Service. The cause of the fire has not been determined. Investigation is ongoing.

Updated at 11:44 a.m. 6/22/16 to include the name of the deceased.

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