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Updated 11/10/12 – 11:03 a.m.
WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CBS) – A five-year-old Waukegan girl played with fire — and it cost the girl her life.
Waukegan Battalion Chief John Schmidt said Daniela Martinez’s parents told her to go to the basement at about 11:45 a.m. Friday to dress for her afternoon kindergarten class. Instead, she allegedly used matches to set a laundry basket full of linens on fire.
Schmidt said the basement smoke detector had no battery, and said no smoke detector was mounted on the first floor of the home, at 1534 Jenkinson Ct.
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By the time firefighters arrived, smoke was belching from the basement. Neighbors told them the girl could be trapped inside. Schmidt said that firefighters found the girl within minutes, despite a maze of rooms and zero visibility, but neither they nor doctors at Vista East Hospital could revive Daniela.
“It’s a terrible tragedy,” Schmidt said, and added that it could have been prevented with a working smoke detector.
Daniela was the only person firefighters had to bring out. Others who had been in the building were able to escape physically unharmed.
Waukegan Mayor Robert Sabonjian was among those who rushed to the scene when he learned that the girl had been brought out unresponsive.
Doctors, paramedics and firefighter who want counseling will be provided it over the weekend, Schmidt said. Counselors also will be available at the girl’s school next week.