Fatal Chicago High Rise Fire Prompts Early Court Action

The estate of a man killed in a high rise fire in Chicago last Tuesday, has filed a petition in Cook County Circuit Court to obtain access to 911 tapes and fire reports. The three alarm fire occurred in a 16 story building at 6730 South Shore Drive.

John Fasula, 50, a Chicago Transit Authority employee who worked part time in the building, died heroically in the blaze. He and a second employee, Jameel Johnson, rescued an elderly woman and were reportedly either firefighting the fire with extinguishers or searching for other victims when they were overcome. Johnson died as well.

The petition was filed by on Thursday by Patricia Fasula, the administrator of John’s estate. Besides records from the fire department, the petition also reportedly seeks records from the building’s owners and the police department

Here is more on the fire.

Here is more on the petition.

If there are any Illinois attorneys out there who can explain why it was necessary to file a petition in court 2 days after a fire in order to obtain the 911 and fire department records (that would appear to be public records anyway) please clue the rest of us in. Generally the only time petitions like this are used is when there is a concern that relevant evidence from the scene may be lost, discarded, or not preserved. Perhaps the news reports have the details about the petition wrong or perhaps there is something in Illinois law or practice that explains the reason for the petition.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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