Family of 10-year-old boy killed in Northwest Side fire files lawsuit

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The family of a 10-year-old boy who was killed in an extra-alarm fire in a Northwest Side apartment building earlier this month has filed a lawsuit against the building owners, alleging smoke detectors were not working.

Maria Tahir and Tahir Khan filed the negligence lawsuit Monday in Cook County Circuit Court.

Firefighters responded to the blaze about 4 a.m. Nov. 9, which moved throughout the courtyard building in the 5700 block of North Kimball before being put out about 45 minutes later, Fire Media Affairs said at the time.

Tahir and Khan were forced to drop two of their three children a window of their third floor apartment, according to the suit. The parents then jumped from the window.

But their third child, 10-year-old Ans Tahir, was trapped in the apartment, the suit alleges.

The boy was discovered dead inside the building, the medical examiner’s office said. An autopsy conducted the next day was inconclusive pending further studies.

The suit claims the building’s owners, Mihai and Elena Horga, failed to properly test and maintain smoke alarms in common stairwells and did not provide functioning smoke detectors to their tenants.

While Tahir and Khan remain hospitalized in the intensive care unit, their two surviving children, ages 7 and 8, are living with their aunt in Texas, according to the family’s lawyer, Timothy Cavanagh.

Khan is suffering from burns, smoke inhalation and fractures to his back and legs, Cavanagh said. Tahir has had at least one surgery on her lungs from smoke inhalation and fractured a rib.

“They’re in really bad shape,” he said.

The building has been cited for code violations more than 40 times since 2007, according to city data. In February 2012 it was cited twice because smoke detectors were not operating in a stairwell.

In total, 11 people — five of them between the ages of 15 and 17 — were taken to various hospitals after the fire, including Swedish Covenant, Weiss Memorial and Saint Francis in Evanston, fire officials said. The other six hospitalized are all adults.

Fire Media Affairs spokesman Juan Hernandez said at the time that investigators were focusing on the third floor of the building, where the blaze was thought to have originated.

Firefighters at the scene reported they heard fire alarms going off in the building when they arrived, so the alarms are thought to be in working order, Hernandez said.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation, authorities said.

Mihai and Elena Horga could not immediately be reached for comment on the lawsuit Wednesday evening.

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