The fire is said to have been started by squatters burning debris to keep warm in the cold winter in a building whose utilities had been cut off. The fire is believed to have spread and caught the roof that was weighed down by snow and ice leading to its collapse on the firefighters on duty. The ensuing mishaps by the fire department, according to a federal report, are attributed to the tragic deaths and casualties that occurred during the firefighting exercise. According to the report, the firefighters sent into the vacant building had radios, yet their supervisors outside did not get to know the happenings inside: the building’s wooden pillars were letting the fire crawl up to the ceiling so fast. As a group of the fire fighters wrestled the fire from inside the building, another group was on the roof, cutting it up and spraying water on the fire. The cutting was supposed to allow smoke to escape, but it led to the roof collapsing, killing the two firefighters and injuring nineteen more. According to Tim Merinar, the lead federal investigator in the Chicago fire incident, the Fire Department’s supervisors ought to have taken a defensive approach in tackling the fire by ordering more firefighters to get out of the building after it was ascertained no persons were trapped inside, as had been previously feared on arrival at the scene. The report faulted the Fire Department for the deaths and injuries on the firefighters. Apparently, the department overlooked several things that ought to have been part of its strategy.
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