Officials: Rolling Meadows condo fire likely accidental

  • Firefighters work to extinguish a burning condo building on the 5200 block of Carriageway Drive in Rolling Meadows Wednesday night.

      Firefighters work to extinguish a burning condo building on the 5200 block of Carriageway Drive in Rolling Meadows Wednesday night. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Rolling Meadows police said the cause of Wednesday night's fire at a condo complex on the 5200 block of Carriageway Drive appears to be accidental.

      Rolling Meadows police said the cause of Wednesday night's fire at a condo complex on the 5200 block of Carriageway Drive appears to be accidental. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/7/2015 9:23 AM

The Rolling Meadows condo building fire this week apparently started in the third-floor unit where a 55-year-old man jumped from his balcony and later died, Rolling Meadows police said Friday.

Police added they believe the fire was accidental. They say there may have been pressurized oxygen tanks in Kenneth Vansickle's condo, but Rolling Meadows Deputy Police Chief Mark Hogan would not say Friday if Vansickle or his wife were using the tanks and why.

 

Neighbors in apartments across the street reported feeling their building shake shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday and then saw flames from the condo building.

According to authorities, when the fire started Vansickle's wife called 911 and told her husband to go onto the balcony.

She escaped through the condo's front door, and it was unclear Friday if he had a medical condition that prevented him going with her.

Vansickle either jumped or fell from the balcony, but there were no witnesses who saw it happen, Hogan said.

Police found him not breathing and in cardiac arrest below his unit outside the rear of the building on the 5200 block of Carriageway Drive. Officers began trying to resuscitate him, until paramedics arrived and rushed him to Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, where he was pronounced dead.

The Cook County medical examiner's said Vansickle died from multiple injuries he suffered in the fall.

The fire, meanwhile, displaced residents in all 48 condo units, who were still out of their homes on Friday, Hogan said.

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Police are still investigating Vansickle's death, but they believe there are no suspicious circumstances, he added.

Authorities haven't conclusively pinpointed what ignited the blaze that started in Vansickle's unit and spread to the attic and down the hallway.

More than 100 firefighters from 24 departments throughout the Northwest suburbs spent four hours working to bring the blaze under control.

By Thursday afternoon, fire investigators concluded their on-scene investigation and turned over the building back to property managers, Rolling Meadows Fire Chief Scott Franzgrote said. The Illinois Fire Marshal's office also is helping the department probe the fire's cause.

Franzgrote expects to have an estimate of the cost of the damage next week. Six of the 48 units in the building were destroyed.

Some portions of the boarded-up, 50-year-old building closest to the source of the fire aren't structurally safe, Franzgrote said, but it will be up to the building's owner to decide whether to make repairs. Other areas in the building "were very minimally damaged," Franzgrote said.

Most of the cars in the underground parking garage had little or no damage.

On Friday afternoon, the Red Cross and Salvation Army were scheduled to meet at city hall with displaced residents to help arrange temporary housing and other services.

• Daily Herald staff writer Melissa Silverberg contributed to this report

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