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updated: 7/24/2014 10:38 PM

4-year-old boy dies in Bensenville house fire

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  • Video: Neighbor talks about fire

  • Nicor, ComEd and fire officials investigate a fire at 1555 E. Devon Ave. in Bensenville. A child was killed, one person was injured, seven people were displaced, and two dogs died.

       Nicor, ComEd and fire officials investigate a fire at 1555 E. Devon Ave. in Bensenville. A child was killed, one person was injured, seven people were displaced, and two dogs died.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Nicor, ComEd and fire officials investigate what caused a fire Wednesday afternoon at 1555 E. Devon Ave. in Bensenville, in which a child was killed.

       Nicor, ComEd and fire officials investigate what caused a fire Wednesday afternoon at 1555 E. Devon Ave. in Bensenville, in which a child was killed.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

 
 

A 4-year-old boy hiding behind a dresser didn't escape a house fire and died Wednesday afternoon in Bensenville despite the efforts of his mother, a neighbor, passers-by, police and firefighters.

"Every minute seemed to be like 100 minutes," neighbor Kathleen Barroso said of their efforts to get to Martin Pletz. "You are trying to do something. ... You're only two feet from him and you just can't get to him."

Fire officials and the DuPage County coroner did not identify the boy.

Bensenville Fire Protection District Chief Michael Spain said firefighters were called at 2:04 p.m. to a single-family house on the 1500 block of West Devon Avenue. Bystanders told them a child was trapped inside.

After extinguishing much of the fire, firefighters were able to search the brick house. "Firefighters made a frantic effort to find the child," Berkeley Fire Chief David Traiforos told ABC 7 Chicago. The Berkeley department was one of several that fought the fire.

Barroso, who lives next door, said the mother, Tiffany Pletz, pounded on her door at 2 p.m., screaming that Martin was trapped inside, having hidden behind a dresser in a bedroom.

Barroso and Pletz then ran around the house, trying to get back in through a door and by breaking windows.

"It was just completely black," Barroso said. "It was just flames."

Two bystanders joined them, as did two Wood Dale police officers, she said, before firefighters arrived.

They tried to extinguish flames in the back bedroom with a garden hose, but the water pressure was weak, Barroso said. The house is served by a private well.

Barroso said she then took three of Parrish's other children -- a 7-year-old girl, a 1-year-old boy and a 9-month-old girl -- to a neighbor's house. Parrish's oldest daughter, age 8, was at her grandfather's house on Central Avenue, Barroso said.

Two dogs also died in the fire.

Seven people were displaced by the fire in the end. One of the occupants was treated for minor injuries and taken to Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village.

"They were very loving and sweet. The children were always out there playing," next-door neighbor Lauren Addis said. "And it's just terrible that this happened. They don't deserve this."

The cause of the fire is unknown. The state fire marshal's office is investigating.

Barroso said Tiffany Pletz told her the fire was started by one of the children playing with matches and a mattress caught fire.

The DuPage County coroner will perform an autopsy on the boy Tuesday.

Addison Township assessor's records indicate the house was built in 1964.

• Daily Herald photographer Paul Michna contributed to this report.

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