UPDATE: Deadly House Fire Under Investigation

By: Meghan Dwyer; Whitney Martin Email
By: Meghan Dwyer; Whitney Martin Email

ROCKFORD (WIFR) --- Students at Thurgood Marshall School pay tribute to their classmate Dominick Cashatt, 13, who was killed in a fire early Monday morning.

A makeshift memorial in the school's hallway features the seventh grader's artwork and science projects.



ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The Winnebago County Coroner has confirmed all four victims of the fire on 10th Avenue died of smoke inhalation.

Autopsies were performed today on 61-year-old Sharon Cashatt, and her children 21-year-old Douglas, 13-year-old Dominick, and 10-month-old Isabella. The Fire Department says the massive blaze was accidental and may have been caused by a live Christmas tree.

Investigators say it’s unclear whether there were working smoke detectors in the home.

To help the survivors of the fire, the Red Cross is currently accepting donations.Trinity Lutheran Church has also set up a fund for the Cashatt Family through Alpine Bank. Monetary donations can be made directly through the bank or at the church to help with funeral and living expenses. The church is also accepting clothing and gift cards for the survivors.


ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- A fire that broke out inside a Rockford home just after midnight claimed the lives of four people, including a child and a baby. Two others survived. The fire occurred in the 1600 block of 10th Avenue and has been deemed a total loss.

The house was torn down earlier today because it was in such bad shape. The fire department says it showed up six minutes after getting the call, but flames were already taking over the first floor.
It’s the first fatal house fire since 2010. The Fire Department says it doesn’t know whether it was caused by a Christmas Tree or a cigarette, but it was definitely an accident. Investigators say it’s still unclear whether there were working fire detectors in the house. Six people were inside the home when the fire started, but only two got out alive.

“It started in the front room, a Christmas tree was in that area of origin; we’re investigating its relationship to this fire, but fire travels very, very fast,” said Div. Chief Matthew Knott with the Rockford Fire Department.
The coroner says she thinks all four victims died of smoke inhalation rather than burns, but the cause of death won’t be determined until after their autopsies tomorrow. There were also four dogs inside the house, three of them were rescued from the basement and have been given to animal control.

The Red Cross is putting the survivors up in a local hotel and is also accepting monetary donations for them. Firefighters will be knocking on doors in the neighborhood this week, giving out free smoke detectors.

"Four people being gone at once, it's not supposed to happen this way"
Diontae Cashatt was one of only two people to survive a massive fire, four others, including his mother, were killed.

“Someone called for help and I couldn't go up there because I didn't want to put myself in their spot."

Cashatt says he managed to find his way to safety, as his family was trapped upstairs.

“Trying to put out the fire they had to call,” said Tara Gonzalez, whose mother was killed in the fire. “I just knew, it was taking too long to get to them, I knew there wasn’t much they could do for them.”
Construction crews give us a devastating image of where the victims lived.

The victims include 10-month old Isabella, 13-year-old Dominick, a Boy Scout and an avid Packers fan, 21-year-old Douglas, known for his laid back personality, and 61-year-old Sharon who friends say was a foster parent who took in dozens of kids over the years and ended up adopting eight of them.

Fire crews helped carry items to a friend’s car, a jewelry box, disposable cameras, and pictures were among the few items salvaged in the fire.

“We can’t get them back so it’s better than nothing.”

The home is now reduced to rubble, leaving the two survivors with only the clothes on their back and memories of their loved ones.
Sharon was also a para-professional for District 205. Grief counselors and social workers were made available to students who attended class with 13-year-old Dominick at Marshall.

In addition to the Red Cross, Trinity Lutheran Church has also set up a fund for the Cashatt Family through Alpine Bank. Monetary donations can be made directly through the bank or at the church to help with funeral and living expenses. The church is also accepting clothing and gift cards for the survivors.


UPDATE: Winnebago Coroner's Office has confirmed that 2 adults and 2 children are among the 4 people who died this morning.



ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Emergency crews are still on scene investigating the cause of a house fire on the 1600 block of 10th Avenue.

Police say fire broke out around 12:30 a.m. Monday morning and four people have died.

When firefighters arrived on scene they could see heavy smoke and fire coming from the top story of the home. The residence was a single family unit. No further information is being released at this time.

We will have more details as they become available.


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