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Family of man killed in fire demands answers

April 9, 2009 5:25:22 PM PDT
The family of a man killed in a fire on Chicago's West Side on Monday is demanding answers from the fire department.The man's body was not recovered from the burned-out home by firefighters.

A relative found the body of Crosby Lipscomb when they searched the building two days after the fire.

The Chicago Fire Department is investigating.

A Garfield Park family wants the Chicago Fire Department to tell them what happened. They want to know why firefighters did not discover their uncle's body in the apartment where the fire broke out on Monday. They say they have not been contacted with an explanation or an apology.

"I went in there, it took me like 20 seconds to go in there and find my uncle. These are supposed to be trained professional firemen," said Haywood Lipscomb, victims' nephew.

Lipscomb said he went in on Wednesday and found his 58-year-old uncle, Crosby Lipscomb, within 20 seconds. He then called 911 and watched when police and fire officials appeared on the scene to remove the body from the building.

"If I hadn't went in there yesterday, there's no telling how long he would have been in there," said Haywood Lipscomb.

"The fire department did not do their job....it's a possibility he could have made it," said Sharida Lipscomb, the victim's niece.

The family says that on Monday morning when the fire erupted in the 3500-block of W. Polk. They asked the fire department to continue searching the home for their missing uncle.

"All the family, we say, 'ya'll sure ain't nobody in there?' They were like, we searched the premises three or four times," said Haywood Lipscomb.

Larry Langford spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department said, "It is always our mission to rescue those still alive and recover those who have perished. It appears in this case we missed the recovery. We believe to a reasonable certainty that this individual had already perished when we arrived to find heavy fire and extreme smoke. However, no family member should ever have to find a loved one after we have searched and left a fire scene."

"That's not the issue, whether he was dead or not already.Why did they miss the body?" said Haywood Lipscomb.

Investigators are interviewing firefighters and reviewing recordings to determine what happened.

Lipscomb was a retired janitor for the Chicago Public Schools. Family members say he was adored by everyone, and loved to fish, ride his bike and chat with everyone.

"They don't know if he still had some life in him. They failed to do their job," said Rotunda Davidson, the victim's niece.

"I would like them to explain to the family and especially the public why they didn't do their job. I feel they owe us an apology," said Haywod Lipscomb.

An autopsy found Lipscomb died from smoke and soot inhalation. His death was ruled accidental.

The family says they have still not been contacted by the Chicago Fire Department.

The spokesman for the department said they are conducting an aggressive investigation and reviewing logs, recordings and assignments to determine how this happened and to come up with way to make sure this does not happen again.


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