Deadly fire sweeps through Chicago home

July 27, 2008 4:48:27 PM PDT
One person died and another was in critical condition after fire swept through a home Sunday in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood. Several other people also were injured.The fire broke out Sunday morning at a home in the 2500 block of South Hamlin.

Shortly before dawn, firefighters were called to the Rolon family's. Heavy fire was seen coming from a rear porch, and residents inside were trapped.

"[The] first floor bedroom is where two of the victims were found. They were removed via windows. One of the victims found the second floor interior stairwell, [we] had to walk through smoke and fire to find him and removed him," said Bob Hoff of the Chicago Fire Department.

Three of the seven residents living in the home were rushed to hospitals. The man found in the stairwell was 42-year-old Ramon Rolon. He died a short time later from smoke inhalation. Rolon's family says he was mentally challenged but did his best to help his mother.

" Every time he'd get paid, he would say, 'Don't worry, mom. I'll help pay the rent,'" said Jacqueline Ferrer, the victim's sister.

Ferrer says her mother tried to help Rolon out of the burning house, but the smoke and the flames proved to be too much.

While fire investigators work to determine the cause of the fire, Rolon's mother fears the fire may have been set deliberately.

"She says she got threatened by somebody a week ago. They came a month or two ago and busted out some windows. So, she thinks somebody did it deliberately, but we're not sure," said the victim's sister, Wilma Rolon.

In the meantime, the fire department says Ramon Rolon might have been survived if there were working smoke detectors inside the home. As they always do when there is a fire injury or death, members of the Chicago Fire Department spent the Sunday afternoon passing out smoke detectors in the Little Village neighborhood.

"There were smoking detectors in home, but they didn't have batteries. It is very important to have the smoke detectors and also to change those batteries once a year and test them to make sure they are working," said the Chicago Fire Department's Matthew Thomas.

The fire department also reminded neighbors about the importance of carbon monoxide detectors.

Fire officials say the fire required an incredible amount of manpower because there were people trapped inside the home. Seventeen companies were called to the scene. The fire department says there were 130 personnel on hand to fight the blaze.


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