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‘We may never know’ cause of Little Village fire where 10 died: report

Ten children died from injuries in a fire last month in this Little Village building. | Sun-Times

Ten children died from injuries in a fire last month in this Little Village building. | Chicago Fire Media Affairs

The Chicago Fire Department on Friday issued its final report on the fire in Little Village where 10 children died.

The report states that the August 2018 fire was set by an open flame, but could not conclude if it was intentionally set.

“There are many scenarios that could support that finding from accidental to intentional,” the report states. “We may never know the exact scenario that caused this tragic fire that took the lives of 10 young people. The cause could range from careless use of smoking materials to fireworks or even improper use of a lighter or matches.”

The fire broke out in the early hours of Aug. 26, 2018, in the rear porch of an apartment building the 2200 block of South Sacramento Avenue. It claimed the lives of cousins Amayah Almaraz, 3 months; Alanni Ayala, 3; Gialanni Ayala, 5; Ariel Garcia, 5; Giovanni Ayala, 10; Xavier Contreras, 11; Nathan Contreras, 13; Adrian Hernandez, 14; Cesar Contreras, 14; and close family friend Victor Mendoza, 16.

The child death toll matched the highest in Chicago since the infamous Our Lady of the Angels Catholic School fire in 1958.

After the fire, an investigation by the fire department found 38 violations in the front building, including missing or defective smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, defective light fixtures, and armored cable, electrical wiring and plumbing installed without permits.

Investigators found a smoke detector in the building, but it did not have a working battery.

The department’s investigation ruled out electrical causes and uses of accelerant. The investigation was assisted by the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The building is set to be demolished by mid-July.