CHICAGO — A boy who was saved by his grandfather from a fire on the Southeast Side Sunday may have started the blaze while playing with a lighter, the building’s owner tells WGN.
After fire broke out in a coach house near 100th Street and Avenue L Sunday afternoon, the flames could be seen for blocks and the smoke was visible for miles. According to police, 69-year-old Apolonio Castillano removed a second-floor window and dropped his 7-year-old grandson into the arms of officers waiting below.
Castillano collapsed inside the home after, but firefighters were able to locate and rescue him as they moved throughout building. He suffered multiple injuries, including burns on his body and smoke inhalation, and was rushed to University of Chicago Hospital. Police reported that Castillano died in the blaze Sunday night, but later indicated he is still alive, and in critical condition.
Although fire officials initially said they couldn’t locate any working smoke detectors, the building’s owner Martin Rosas said they were in the hallways and bedrooms, but people on the second floor would occasionally disable them so they could smoke inside.
Rosas said police and firefighters told him the boy admitted to police he was playing with a lighter when the fire started in a stairwell between two floor.
Regardless of how it started, this fire so far as taken only the lives of several pets. The family living below was not home when started. They lost a lot in the fire, but still have each other.
Rosas says the building is so damaged it will have to come down. Meanwhile, doctors continue to treat the 7-year-old and his grandfather.