Part of Fire Investigation Concentrating on Space Heater Discovered at Scene of Fatal House Fire on Oakton St in Des Plaines

Firefighter working overhaul inside scene of a house fire that killed four girls and her mother
Firefighter working overhaul inside scene of a house fire that killed four girls and her mother.

House fire kills four children and mother on Oakton Street east of Elmhurst Road in Des Plaines. YouTube Tips ⓘ

Part of the investigation of a house fire on Oakton Street in Des Plaines that killed four children and their mother on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 is concentrating on a space heater discovered in the heavily damaged house. The two-story structure, also known as a 1 1/2-story frame, had been converted into apartments, and the family occupied one of the apartment units in the house in the block of 700 West Oakton Street.

The space heater may have been the cause of a fire that blocked the exit of the victims’ escape from the fire in the wood frame 1 1/2-story house on the north side of Oakton Street in Des Plaines.

Citahaly Zamiodo, age 25, and her daughters Renata P. Espinosa, age 6; Genesis A. Espinosa, age 5; Allizon V. Espinosa, age 3; and Grace Espinosa, age 1, were trapped in the house, which was fully charged with smoke on both floors. Autopsies were tentatively scheduled for Thursday, January 28, 2021 to determine the cause of death of each victim. Citahaly Zamiodo, age 25, was pronounced dead at the scene. CPR and Advanced Life Support efforts were administered to her daughters who were transported to Level 1 Trauma Center Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, where they were all pronounced dead.

“One of the firefighters comes out with one of the girls in his hand and she’s blackened by all the smoke and all the stuff. She is semi-conscious. A minute or two goes by, there’s another one that comes out in the same condition.”

— Pabel Marerro

Firefighters were dispatched at 10:13 a.m. immediately after the first 9-1-1 call for help. The 9-1-1 center received multiple calls reporting the house fire, and the fire call was upgraded to a working fire call before firefighters arrived. Firefighters searched the smoke-filled house for all five victims. The first victim was discovered about 10:30 a.m. as some firefighters originally assigned to attacking the fire were re-assigned to help search and treat the fire victims. An initial report indicated that a man had attempted to go in the house to rescue the victims before firefighters arrived. That man may have been Pabel Marrero, who lived in the downstairs apartment, or a passerby who alerted Marrero that there was smoke coming out of the house. No other tenant or civilian injuries were reported, but a firefighter suffered a non-life-threatening injury. The 9-1-1 center received multiple calls reporting the house fire.

A mother and her four young daughters were killed in a house fire in Des Plaines Wednesday morning (ABC 7 Chicago). YouTube Tips ⓘ

The Des Plaines Fire Department, the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office and the MABAS Division 3 OFI regional task force are investigating the fatal fire with combined resources. Des Plaines Fire Department Fire Chief Daniel Anderson, who was on scene during firefighting operations, told news media reporters yesterday, that he didn’t hear any smoke detectors activated, but that they could have been stopped because of the fire conditions.

Des Plaines Fire Chief Daniel Anderson — with over 35 years experience as a firefighter, paramedic and commanding officer — told news reporters he had never seen anything as bad as the house fire he experienced Wednesday. Chief Anderson began work as Des Plaines Fire Chief just over one year ago during January 2020, following the retirement of Fire Chief Alan Wax.

Chief Anderson praised the work of firefighters, and recognized the assistance of firefighters from neighboring communities, including Arlington Heights, Bensenville, Chicago, Elk Grove Village, Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, North Maine, Palatine, Prospect Heights, Rolling Meadows, Rosemont, Skokie, Wilmette, and Wood Dale.

Fire crews near Des Plaines Tower Ladder on Oakton Street at the front of the building.

Firefighter working inside house.
Des Plaines Engine 63 at the fire scene.


CARDINAL NEWS | One Adult and 4 Children Age 6 and Younger Killed in House Fire on Oakton Street in Des Plaines



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Ambulance on standby on Oakton Street in Des Plaines
Ambulance on standby on Oakton Street in Des Plaines.
The house on Oakton Street where one adult and four children were killed in a house fire.

Chicago Fire Department Squad 7 responded as part of the MABAS Box Alarm activation.
Squad 7 is stationed at O’Hare International Airport.

Illinois Office of State Fire Marshal on scene.

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