Cicero 911 Call: "They're Trying To Get Out"

Fire could have been smoldering for hours before blaze erupted

By Dick Johnson
|  Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010  |  Updated 7:15 PM CDT
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Among the calls and transmissions recorded early Sunday morning by Cicero's 911 emergency center is a chilling realization:

"Twelve, I got some people inside.  They're trying to get out!" one dispatcher says.

The nearly 30 minutes of audio released to reporters Wednesday show that no 911 calls came from inside the overcrowded building that caught fire and killed seven people in Cicero.

[Audio:  Cicero 911 Emergency Calls (2:00)]

The lack of calls, and the fire's rapid spread, has lead investigators to question whether the fire had been smoldering for hours or an intentionally set blaze.

Investigators are sorting through debris to find the fire's point of origin -- the back porch, on which the roof collapsed -- and have called an electrical systems expert to assist.

An accelerant sniffing dog is expected to assist when they get to the point of origin.

Whatever the fire's origin, investigators say there are definitely fire code violations in the building because so many who died were allowed to live and sleep in the attic with only one way out.

"I know there's a file about three inches thick, so we're checking it out today with the town attorneys," village president Larry Dominick said. "I'm hoping that if the same problem exists anywhere else, people would call up and say,'Hey, there's 20 people living here, or 30 people,' so we don't have the same tragedy again."

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