With her belongings stacked next to her in four beat-up, cardboard boxes, Cindy Williams, her face soot-covered, sat on her front stoop Monday evening and held her cell phone in the air, exasperated that her phone lost its charge while she was talking with her insurance agent.
"Now my cell phone's dead! Can you believe it?" she said.
That minor inconvenience, though, underscored the larger tragedy of Williams' evening after her minivan caught fire in the garage of the Frankfort Square house she was renting, leaving her without a place to stay.
Williams said an electrical short in her 2004 Oldsmobile Silhouette minivan caused the blaze, which spread to the garage and part of the house she was renting in the 7300 block of Hickory Creek Road. Water and smoke damage have left the house uninhabitable, she said, adding that the house also was filled with carcinogens from the burning vehicle materials.
Firefighters from the put out the fire, which started around 6 p.m., according to witnesses. A message to the fire district was not immediately returned Monday night.
After returning from a doctor's visit about two hours earlier, Williams, who is 61 and on Social Security disability, said she heard the van's horn go off and went to investigate. That's when she saw the minivan on fire in the garage. She grabbed a fire extinguisher, but a neighbor told her to get outside. She left the house but not without making sure her two dogs escaped with her.
"There's my last car payment," Williams said.
Cathy Passini, the house's owner, traveled from her home in Homer Glen to take care of contacting the restoration company so the house could be boarded up. Passini, who has rented out the Hickory Creek Road house for about 12 years, said she's never had to deal with a situation like this and needs to hear from her insurance company before she decides what to do with the house.
The first priority for Williams, however, is finding new accommodations. She said she can stay with friends for a little bit, but she worries about a long-term housing solution.
"My main concern is finding a place to live," she said.
Want to help Cindy Williams? You can leave contact information in the comments section of this article or e-mail it to Frankfort Patch editor Joe Vince at email@example.com.
Two Ways to Stay Connected to Frankfort Patch:
- Subscribe to our newsletters to have headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox.
- "Like" our Facebook page for updates throughout the day.