A woman is being treated for first and second degree burns Wednesday evening after a backyard fire forced her into the frigid waters of the Rock River.
Rescue workers say one observant neighbor saved the Machesney Park woman's life.
Police say a 57-year-old Sylvia Holloway was burning leaves in her backyard when the fire flared up engulfing her. When rescue workers arrived they found her submerged in the river a few yards from her house.
"When we found her she appears to have burns on a good portion of her body," said Chief Ferdinand
"The fire may have blew back on her when she apparently jumped in the water," said Lt. Bob Springer.
One neighbor who was working in his yard across the river heard Holloway's screams, but he says he wasn't sure what happened.
"It looked like someone was carrying a flag and jumped in the water but then I realized she was on fire," said Tony Ciaccio, neighbor.
When rescue workers arrived they immediately sent a dive team into the frigid waters of the Rock River to look for Holloway, after nearly 20 minutes they found her submerged in water only a few yards from her house.
Rescue workers say when they found Holloway she was breathing, but was badly burned. Jumping in the water, as cold as it is, probably saved her life.
"The water in this case worked in her favor," Chief Ferdinand said.