Fires and explosions make headlines in the U.S. daily. Set a Google alert for the term “house fire” or “pipeline explosion,” and you will be inundated with updates.
Here are two headlines from the past few days, both originating from the Chicago area:
Fire kills 10 children asleep at slumber party
From USA Today, August 29: A residential fire in Chicago killed 10 children who were attending a slumber party. At the time of the fire, no adults were at home and the apartment had no working smoke detectors.
Officials on Tuesday announced the 10th fatality from the Sunday morning fire: a 14-year-old boy. The Chicago Fire Department said the investigation into the fire’s cause is ongoing and that the boy’s death left “no survivors” of the fire.
The victim, Adrian Hernandez, was about to start high school; he enjoyed wrestling and Chinese food, his mother, Leticia Reyes, told the Chicago Tribune. “He was nice,” Reyes told the paper. “He was a quiet boy. He didn’t start trouble with nobody.”
Victims of the fire ranged in age from 3 months old to teenagers, according to fire department spokesman Larry Langford.
Langford said an investigation suggests the children were asleep at the time of the fire, were overwhelmed by smoke and were unable to wake up.
Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services is investigating “allegations of neglect” in relation to the incident.
The building has been subject to numerous code violations in the past, and the owner of the building had recently been attempting to evict the woman who rented the unit impacted by the fire, WGN 9 Chicago reported.
The fire started on the second floor of a house located in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, according to CNN. The first floor of the unit was unoccupied, the network reported.
Arson has been ruled out as a cause of the fire. Officials believe the fire started on the apartment’s back porch, where the children had previously set off fireworks and people have smoked cigarettes.
Investigators are attempting to determine what activities occurred on the porch before the fire, the Associated Press reported. Additionally, authorities are analyzing an electrical device that is unrelated to previous code violations at the building, the Chicago Fire Department announced Wednesday.
In the wake of the fire, the department encouraged residents to have working smoke detectors, calling the devices “cheap insurance to protect your family.” Earlier this week, the department passed out smoke detectors on the block where the fire occurred.
(Contributing: Associated Press)
10 injured in South Side explosion
From abc7chicago.com, August 30: Ten people were injured after the roof of a water reclamation district facility collapsed in an explosion in the Riverdale neighborhood on Chicago’s Far South Side.
The explosion occurred at a sludge concentration building at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant at 430 East 130th Street at around 11 a.m., a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District said.
The Chicago Fire Department said 10 people were injured, and two of them had to be removed from the rubble. Fire officials said one person was pulled out after about 20 minutes and a second person was rescued after about two hours.
Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago said the second person was trapped and entombed and rescuers had to tunnel to him to rescue him. Rescuers tunneled about 20 feet to reach the injured victim.
Fire officials said two paramedics were sent down to attend to the victim and worked before he was extricated. He sustained a broken jaw and a fractured leg.
Shortly after 1 p.m., the scene was secured.
A man who lives in the area – and asked to remain anonymous – heard the explosion. “I never felt nothing like that, the type of vibration,” he said.
Fire officials said a preliminary investigation indicates the explosion was a methane explosion.