Des Plaines alderman calls for full report on deadly fire

A Des Plaines alderman is calling for a "full and comprehensive" report on the fire that left four children and their mother dead last week.

During Monday's council meeting, 5th Ward Alderman Carla Brookman said she wants details about the overall fire department response to last Wednesday's blaze at a residential building in the 700 block of West Oakton Street, including if there were any problems with equipment or manpower.

Brookman also wants to know if there were any delays in how the fire was reported to the department.

She requested a formal report be delivered to the council, saying members "have a special responsibility to ask hard questions and seek to do what we can to protect the lives of Des Plaines residents."

The fire killed 6-year-old Renata P. Espinosa, 5-year-old Genesis A. Espinosa, 3-year-old Allizon V. Espinosa, 1-year-old Grace Espinosa and their mother, 25-year-old Cythaly Zamodio.

Zamodio's husband, whose name hasn't been released by authorities, was at work at the time, officials have said. He was the only member of the immediate family not killed in the blaze.

"I can't imagine being in that dad's shoes," Mayor Matthew Bogusz said during Monday's meeting, which was held remotely because of the COVID-19 crisis. "I know we all feel the same way."

An electric space heater is a focal point of the ongoing investigation by the Des Plaines Fire Department, the Illinois State Fire Marshal's Office and a regional task force.

A preliminary investigation revealed the fire began at the top of the stairs leading to the family's second-floor apartment. Those stairs were the only way in or out.

The two-story building where the family lived contained four apartments and is registered as a rental property with the city.

Eighth Ward Alderman Andrew Goczkowski said he wants to know what's being done to ensure rental units in the city are safe.

Des Plaines officials last inspected the property in 2018 pending a sale, officials have said. At that time, it met all inspection requirements, including the required number of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, officials said.

But no smoke detectors were found on the second floor after the fire, officials said.

Seventh Ward Alderman Don Smith mentioned the family in a nondenominational prayer at the start of the meeting.

"We grieve for them," he said. "Please continue to keep all of them in your prayers and ask God to look over them."

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