Authorities in Chicago said Monday that a ninth casualty died in a weekend apartment fire that may have been triggered by firecrackers, cigarettes, or other smoking materials, according to authorities
Cesar Contreras, 14, died Monday night in one Hospital, while another boy of the same age remains in critical condition, said the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
Fire spokesman Larry Langford said the investigators learned that children had detonated firecrackers on the porch in the past and that people had been smoking cigarettes there
The fire that took place in a three-story complex on Sunday at four in the morning Chicago's small village quarter broke out, killing seven children and two adults. Investigators found no functioning smoke detectors in the house.
"We have not seen that in many, many years – that amount of casualties and casualties in one place," said Fire Department Commissioner Jose Santiago to reporters, adding one of the children was a child
The coroner's office gave The identity of three of the children released as three-month-old Amaya Almaraz, ten-year-old Giovanni Monarrez and 16-year-old Victor Mendoza. All three were listed as residents of the block where the fire happened.
Although one exact cause still needs to be determined, Langford said that children had firecrackers on the lobby in the past, and it was also a place where people smoked cigarettes. He said the investigators had ruled out problems with the building's electrical system as a cause and did not believe that it had done so on purpose. Langford pointed out that the victims, if there were smoke detectors, could have survived alive.
"Because where it started (on the back porch of a back house), if they had at least one smoke detector, you would have woken up and gone out the front door," said Langford, "they could all have grabbed a staircase and outside (because ) they had a clear chance on the front door. "
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the city's building department says the owner of the apartment building is due to court next month after being cited for two electrical violations.  The fire is Chicago's deadliest since at least 2000, and possibly since 1993, when 19 people died in a blaze devouring a single-occupancy residential hotel.
The Associated Press has contributed to this report.