Friends are organizing a fundraiser for a single mother whose Roselle rental home was destroyed by fire Sunday morning, just days after she moved in.
Donna Rozycki was hosting a sleepover Saturday night for her teenage daughter, Katlyn Hanson, who had invited several classmates from Lake Park High School. At 5:30 a.m., a smoke alarm woke the group.
"They woke up to black smoke and flames," said family friend Ellen Rapacz, who is organizing an account to collect donations.
Roselle firefighters said they arrived at the home on the 200 block of Royce Lane minutes later and found the blaze extended to the roof and the garage was fully engulfed in flames.
Rozycki, her daughter, five friends and three dogs escaped unharmed.
"That smoke detector is probably responsible for saving some lives," Roselle Fire Chief Bob Tinucci said.
Firefighters from Hanover Park, Itasca, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Addison, Schaumburg, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Wood Dale and the Glenside Fire Protection District all helped put out the blaze, which left the home uninhabitable, Tinucci said.
"I seriously doubt the remaining portions are salvageable," he said.
Two cars in the driveway also were damaged.
Officials said one of the people at the house suffered minor scrapes and bruises, but refused treatment at the scene.
While Rozycki and her daughter still have their health, Rapacz said, everything else is in ruins. Rozycki works as a legislative assistant for state Sen. Carole Pankau, who did not win re-election this month. So Rapacz said her friend was already preparing to lose her job.
"She was moving on a shoestring budget and had only moved in a week ago, so she had no renters insurance," Rapacz said. "Insurance on both the cars had lapsed and now she'll be out of a job. I just can't imagine much worse."
Rapacz is currently in the process of organizing a fundraiser, as well as both a bank account and PayPal account where supporters can make charitable donations.
Because those are not set up yet, she said anyone who wishes to help the family can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, fire officials still are investigating the cause of the blaze. Tinucci said the fire started at or above the garage level, and so far the cause appears accidental. But investigators need more time to complete their work, due to heavy charring and damage.
Tinucci is a director with the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association and said fires like this are one reason Roselle is among 85 communities in Illinois that adopted a local code requiring sprinkler systems in new residential construction.
"The same fire in a sprinkled home would have had minimal damage," he said.
Currently, the state fire marshal is in the process of updating the Illinois Life Safety Code to require all new residential construction to have sprinklers. If the legislation is adopted, Tinucci said, it will set a statewide standard for all municipalities to have sprinklers in residential buildings.
"This is a huge, huge step forward for overall fire and life safety," he said.