Roscoe mother who lost daughter in 2007 Chicago fire empathizes with families of Sunday’s fire

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This weekend’s fatal house fire in Chicago is the worst in that city in more than a decade — 10 kids died.
    
But, just 11 years ago, another Chicago fire claimed the life of a Belvidere woman, along with three others. One of the victim’s mother says this weekends blaze brings back tragic memories.

On March 10, 2007, Barb Eicksteadt’s 24 year-old daughter Jennifer Carlson was killed in a fire in Wrigleyville.

“It’s not an easy journey. And it’s a journey no parent wants to be on,” said Eicksteadt. “I think my first reaction was just gutwrenching. We’ve been there. We waited all day. We were just waiting to hear some kind of news.”

Since the 2007 fire, Eicksteadt says she just tries to think of all the fun and funny things Jennifer was known for to cope with her loss.

“Those things are the things that I think of on those days when it’s very hard to cope with it.”

On significant days, like birthdays or the anniversary of Carlson’s death, their family hosts events to honor her life. Eicksteadt says for many years after the tragedy, their family provided scholarships for single mothers in college.

“We had a fundraiser on her birthday, or close enough to her birthday as possible depending on what day it fell on. Then we handed out the scholarships on March 10th.”

At the time of her death, Carlson was a single mother to her five year old son Blake. Eicksteadt says she knows how excited her daughter would’ve been to watch him grow up.

“He’s 16 and it’s time for his to get his license, when he graduates from high school, when gets married. All of those days.”

Chicago Fire investigators were able to find a smoke alarm at the scene of the fatal fire — but the device did not have a working battery.

“Smoke detectors can save lives. Every place that I’ve lived that’s the first thing that I’ve checked… do I have a working smoke detector?”

Chicago Fire investigators say the cause of the fatal Little Village fire is undetermined for now — but not suspicious.

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