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Suicide at Apartment Fire on Dunton Ave: Woman Cut Herself Multiple Times Before Fire and Police Arrived

Fri December 14 2012 5:10 pm
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VIDEO: Apartment fire during overhaul after the fire was extinguished on the fourth floor of Hancock Square at Arlington Station Apartments (formerly 200 Arlington Place).

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office has released the identity of a woman killed in an apartment fire on the fourth floor of Hancock Square at Arlington Station early Thursday morning. Iesha Bailey, 36, was transported to Northwest Community Hospital after she was discovered in a burning apartment. The cause of her death was carbon monoxide intoxication, inhalation of smoke and soot, and blood loss from multiple incisions. Police confirmed the woman’s incision wounds were determined to be self-inflicted.

Police and fire investigators have not publicly confirmed with certainty whether the woman tried to set herself on fire, whether she set something specific in the apartment on fire, or whether an accident coincidentally ignited the fire. Police have reported that the fire is believed to have started in the bedroom, but that Bailey was found in a different room. If the fire wasn’t set intentionally, it is surprising that with working smoking detectors, the fire was as large as it was — the fire was intense, and large flames were visible immediately after smoke alarms sounded — people reported seeing large flames through a window inside the apartment from street level. Firefighters were on the scene within four minutes, but firefighters reported some type of obstructions — apparently set up by Bailey. Police may be ready to eliminate the likelihood that the woman set herself on fire because the findings of the Cook County Medical Examiner did not report burns on Bailey’s body as a cause of death. Still, the matter of how the fire got as big as it did in the unit, before activating a smoke detector and activating the building’s alarm system is a little perplexing. Most people know how such a little bit of smoke will set off smoke detectors. One resident standing on the street after evacuation expressed concern that he did not hear the fire alarm when he was in the bedroom of his apartment. When asked if he knew where the nearest fire alarm speakers were located, he said he wasn’t sure. No word yet available on whether the sprinkler system activated in the apartment. Sprinkler systems are required in multi-family residential construction. Some residents of the apartment building were also concerned about whether the sprinklers activated in all units. Sprinkler systems are usually activated independently at the sprinkler head that has a high ambient temperature, where a mechanism that is sensitive to rising heat at the ceiling activates the sprinkler head. If activation occurred, it was probably at only one or two sprinklers.

Arlington Heights police and firefighter/paramedics responded about 3:50 AM Thursday to an apartment fire at Hancock Square at Arlington Station (formerly 200 Arlington Place), 299 North Dunton Avenue. Firefighter/paramedics and police received a report that smoke was coming out of fourth floor apartment, and that there was no response when neighbors knocked on the door. Firefighter/paramedics reported they had a working fire immediately after arriving on the scene. Firefighters reported smoke coming from an apartment unit, and reported to fire command that they were forcing the door. Firefighters discovered a fire in an apartment on the fourth floor, and reported that they were putting water on the fire. A few minutes later they reported a possible crime scene in the apartment.

Because of obstructions in the apartment unit, firefighters were delayed in getting to the window to ventilate the apartment unit, and completely knock down the fire. The fire was contained to a single apartment unit, but smoke was heavy on the fourth floor and at least one or two other floors.

Bailey was apparently discovered behind some barricaded objects (possibly furniture) in the apartment. She was discovered with the life-threatening injuries and transported to Northwest Community Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. A firefighter was transported to Northwest Community Hospital with a minor injury to a knee. Two police officers were also transported to Northwest Community Hospital and were checked for possible smoke inhalation injuries after they worked on evacuation of residents from the apartment building before firefighters arrived.

Police investigators were on the scene early Thursday morning with evidence kits, and firefighters worked past 6:00 a.m. to overhaul debris and ventilate several floors of the apartment — especially the upper floors.

The fire had not grown strong enough to break the windows, but when firefighters broke the window, heavy smoke poured out of the opening. Light smoke was still coming out of the window opening more than an hour after the original call for help.

Dunton Avenue was blocked between Eastman Street and Miner Street for part of the morning rush.

Rolling Meadows Fire Department assisted Arlington Heights firefighters.

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