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Woman hospitalized after Malta house fire

MALTA – Neighbors said they tried to rescue 92-year-old Betty Hink from her Malta home Saturday night before firefighters saved her from the house that was filling with smoke and flames.

Firefighters rescued Hink from a bedroom on the second floor of the home at 406 S. Sixth Street shortly after they arrived around 7:58 p.m. Saturday, authorities said. Hink was treated and taken to Kishwaukee Hospital. Hospital staff said they didn't have anyone by Hink's name at the hospital Sunday.

Neighbor Becky Smith said she was at home Saturday night when she smelled something burning. She called 911 when she realized her neighbors' home was on fire.

Smith said Hink lives in the home with her sister Muriel Horton, 81, who was not home at the time of the fire. After calling 911, Smith said she, her husband and several other neighbors rushed to the home.

When they arrived, neighbors heard Hink yelling from a bedroom on the second floor in the rear of the home, Smith said.

“[Hink] started yelling for help so we were focused on getting her out of there,” Smith said.

Neighbor Shawn Reynolds said he was one of three neighbors to break the window and pull out an air-conditioning unit to try and rescue Hink. Other neighbors tired to go in through the home's doors, but were stopped by heavy smoke and heat, they said.

“You could only go in for 30 seconds before the smoke got to be too much,” Reynolds said.

When firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after Smith reported the fire, they were able to remove Hink from the bedroom. Two dogs, a terrier and black labrador retriever were also rescued from the home, neighbors said.

The fire was under control within 20 minutes, Malta Fire Chief Jeff Byerhof said. Fire companies remained on scene until about 11 p.m. performing salvage and overhaul operations, he added.

“The house is uninhabitable,” Byerhof said. “As far as damage, I don't have an exact figure, but it's in excess of $100,000.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Illinois State Fire Marshals office.

Fire Department personnel from Creston, Dekalb, Sycamore, Shabbona, Kirkland, and Genoa Kingston Rescue assisted at this scene.

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