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Elderly man dies in house fire

Fire investigators say an electrical problem is believed to have caused a fire this morning that left an elderly Evanston resident dead.

Investigators say the victim apparently became trapped amid piles of clutter as he tried to flee the blaze in his home at 2121 Cleveland St. in the 2nd Ward.

Fire investigators say an electrical problem is believed to have caused a fire this morning that left an elderly Evanston resident dead.

Investigators say the victim apparently became trapped amid piles of clutter as he tried to flee the blaze in his home at 2121 Cleveland St. in the 2nd Ward.

Fire officials haven’t released the identity of the 82-year-old victim, but neighbors and property records indicate he was Richard Eng, who had reportedy lived alone in the ranch-style home since his mother’s death in 1994.

Fire Division Chief Tom Janetske says the fire was called in just before 9 a.m. by a neighbor who heard glass breaking and noticed smoke coming from the house.

When they arrived, firefighters found heavy smoke and flames pouring from the eaves and windows. They tried to enter the front door, but couldn’t get in because of clutter blocking the doorway.

When they got in through a side door, Janetske says, they were met by flames and heavy smoke. They later found the victim dead, about 10 feet from the front door, under a pile of debris.

Heat and smoke caused an estimated $100,000 damage throughout the house.

Fire units from Skokie and Wilmette provided backup coverage at Evanston stations while Evanston fire crews fought the blaze, which was completely extinguished by about 11 a.m.

The death was Evanston’s first fire fatality this year.

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