UPDATED: 1 Dead, 1 Hospitalized after Oak Forest House Fire

One woman is dead and a man is hospitalized after a house fire in the 15200 block of Central Avenue in Oak Forest Tuesday morning.

Updated, 6:00 p.m.

One of the victims of a house fire in Oak Forest Tuesday sustained injuries “not related” to the blaze, Sun-Times Media reports.

Original Story

A 40-year-old woman is dead and her 48-year-old husband remains hospitalized after a fire in their home near 153rd and Central Avenue Tuesday morning.

Neighbors reported smoke pouring out of the home's windows this morning around 9 a.m. Firefighters arriving on the scene at 15230 S. Central Ave. found a man unresponsive on the front porch, according to police. 

Erica Rodriguez was found dead inside the home, according to Oak Forest Police Chief Greg Anderson. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

Her husband Martin Rodriguez was transported to South Suburban Hospital, and later transferred to Advocate Christ Medical Center. 

Oak Forest Fire Chief Terry Lipinski told Sun-Times reporters that one of the victims sustained injuries not related to the fire, but would not elaborate on which victim, or the injuries.

Neighbor Lydia Ponzcak witnessed both victims being removed from the fire. Martin Rodriguez was bloodied in the chest area, she observed. 

"It looked to me like he had streaks of blood on his chest," she said.

His wife was carried out of the home covered up to the chest, and her face appeared "badly, badly burned."

Ponczak called the couple "absolutely great neighbors," who were very friendly and would wave. 

"They were very nice people, as far as we could tell," she said. "We never heard any arguments coming from there or any noise. Kids were well-behaved, never trouble in the neighborhood. They lived there about 8 years."

Officers are treating the scene as a crime scene, Anderson said, adding that it is standard operating procedure. The Illinois State Fire Marshal and South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force are investigating.

The couple's three children—a daughter aged 17, son aged 15, and daughter aged 6—were in school at the time of the fire. 

"I can't imagine leaving your home to go to school and when you come home, there's no home, no family there," Ponczak said. "One of your parents is dead and the other one is clinging to life."

Patch will update as more details become available. 

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Deb Pahl Stearns December 19, 2012 at 04:12 AM
I agree and thank the Patch for the actions they are taking. This is a news site, is it not? Is there anything we really need to know besides the fact that a lovely woman lost her life and three children lost their mother? As we have sadly learned this past weekend with the tragedy in CT reporting inaccurate information is only detrimental. We need to be mindful that there are children that are close to this family from the community that may be reading this.
Titan Dad December 19, 2012 at 04:18 AM
10 o clock news said its a foul play investigation.
Tracy Roth December 19, 2012 at 04:34 AM
My heart and prayers go out to Sylvia, Andrew and Gloria. Their mother Erica was wonderful, vivacious and full of life. She brightened every room she walked in to and most certainly left everyone in it laughing. I am grateful to have known her in the brief time she was here with us. Rest in peace beautiful girl.
OF Resident December 19, 2012 at 04:35 AM
OF Resident I am also disgusted with the rumors or the speculations on this horrific tragedy that this family has endured. These children have just lost their mother, and now waiting on the recovery of their father. The people making these speculations are you really that insensitive to post it on here!! Let the police do their job, and try praying for this family for the days ahead of them. May God comfort this family and wrap his loving arms around them during this difficult time!!
OF Resident December 19, 2012 at 04:39 AM
I couldn't agree more Deb. The insensitivity of people posting unknown facts is just wrong. We should be praying for this family and thinking of the children and the husband and his recovery.
nicole dove December 19, 2012 at 04:46 AM
Shame on those of you posting negative, disrespectful things at a time like this! Put your "theories" aside, and take a moment to absorb the fact that 3 children lost their mother, their father is hospitalized, and their home is destroyed. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Unfortunately in this country, you have the right to free speech so ignorance can run rampant. However, I don't support your right to be a disrespectful jerk. God bless those poor kids and their grieving family.
kim barry December 19, 2012 at 04:46 AM
I am so disappointed to read some of these comments and cannot believe that before you submit your postings you do not think or care about what the surviving children have just endured and the impact that this is having on the rest of the family and friends. My son is a very close friend of the family also attends OF Highschool and has been reading this stuff through out the day and disgusted that adults speak like this without having accurate information. Folks we should be thinking about the children and allow them to grieve for their loss without having to accidentally reading some the above comments. These children do not deserve this so please sensitive to their feelings and needs.
Lauren Traut (Editor) December 19, 2012 at 05:21 AM
Alright, folks. We're shutting down the comment thread for the night. It will reopen tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. Thanks for your contributions. Lauren Traut, Associate Regional Editor
Michael M. December 19, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Any update? I wanted to confirm what I heard from an OF police officer.
Laura Mondschean December 19, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Has anybody heard any new news. How can we help these children please let md know if there is anything I can do. I am so deeply saddened by this Erica was a wonderful person my prayers are with this family.
Lauren Traut (Editor) December 19, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Nope, nothing yet, Michael. Autopsy results will be available this afternoon, and we're checking in with police for any additional details. As soon as more information becomes available, we'll provide it. Thank you. Lauren
Lauren Traut (Editor) December 19, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Also, unless what you've heard from police came from Police Chief Greg Anderson, that information is considered unofficial.
Michael M. December 19, 2012 at 05:52 PM
I know it is unofficial, I heard it from an officer. That is why I didn't post what I heard.
Lauren Traut (Editor) December 19, 2012 at 05:56 PM
We have heard about a fund set up in the kids' names. We're confirming, and then we'll provide the details. Thank you. Lauren Traut, Associate Regional Editor
Lauren Traut (Editor) December 19, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Thanks, Michael. I appreciate your discretion. Lauren Traut, Associate Regional Editor
LISA HINES December 19, 2012 at 06:19 PM
The Marley Project would like to be of some help also. We have food items that the generous residents of Oak Forest have donated to our cause of helping those in need. Perhaps there would be a place for us to bring the contributions, and then they could be forwarded to those caring for the family.
Janet Smith December 19, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Prayers to the children,family members, & friends... May God give you all strength during this sad time
Diane T December 19, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Have you ever played "telephone" when you were a kid where someone starts out by whispering a sentence in someone's ear and that person, in turn, repeats it to the next person's ear, and so on and so on. In the end, after being repeated several times from one to another, the original sentence has oftened changed dramatically. Have you seen the 2000 movie "Gossip"; a real lesson on how damaging and out of control rumors can get. I know we are all worried about our families safety and are eager to get the facts concerning the circumstances surrounding the incident on Central Ave. It is especially more difficult on us as we are still reminded daily of the horrific news regarding Sandy Hook Elementary School. We all want to know what happened here and, some feel the need to share what "unofficial" info they have in order alert their neighbors and Oak Forest residents. Not knowing is very unsettling; but reading these various scenerios is down right scary, even if you meant well. So, I plead with you, now that you don't have an opportunity to share all of your thoughts here on this site, please don't play "telephone" out on the streets. Know that no info is still better than misinfo. During these difficult times, as hard as it is, can we try to reflect on the meaning of Christmas; why He was born, His sacrifice, and the promise He made to us. I pray we return His gift by demonstrating behavior that would be pleasing to Him.
Dave December 19, 2012 at 08:00 PM
This was my exact argument on another incident a while ago. The telephone game can also hurt any type of due process in the court because of the contamination of a jury. I think the movie "Gossip" is a GREAT movie and should be watched by adults. Very good concepts discussed in it. The rumors not only hurt the victims and the families, but also the whole criminal and civil investigations, because now they have to worry about what they hear from a "new" witness might be some fabrication of a twisted telephone game type of story from 10 different people.
Laura Mondschean December 19, 2012 at 09:02 PM
A note from Mr. Beringer (Principal at Foster Elementary): At Foster and the other Forest Ridge School District 142 schools, staff members are coming together to offer support for the Rodriguez family by conducting a voluntary gift card drive. Staff members are volunteering to bring in $10 gift cards for Target, Kohl's, Jewel, Food 4 Less, Macy's and other local merchants that can help feed and clothe the family. Dr. Longo, Dr. Orzel and I will be bringing these donations to the family on Friday. If you would like to volunteer your support to the family, we will also take any donations you wish to make to the family as well. You can drop them off at Foster by the end of the day Thursday. Most importantly, please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers.
OF Resident December 19, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Horrible things happen to wonderful people! Why is it so outrageous to think that nothing intentional could happen to them? Look at what just happen Friday to those beautiful babies!!! I am truly sorry for the pain this loss has caused you and the Rodriguez family
Jill December 19, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Now there is news that there has been some foul play involved (Source: Oak Forest Patch). What I find interesting are two of the first few comments from Deb and Graham earlier in this list of postings. Deb mentions..."Was so praying this wasn't going to happen" and Grahan - "I suspected this was going to happen". What does that even mean? Sounds like you suspected something.
XX DS XX December 19, 2012 at 10:02 PM
No matter what the out come is their are 3 kids with out a Mother and possibly a Father if this case turns out to be foul play. 3 parent-less kids who have to live with the fact that either a crime of passion took place or that an unknown assailant might have been a 3rd party to this horrific indecent. No matter how it's chalked up these kids lost everything in 1 hour. Instead of feeding your lust too know the details try occupying that time with figuring out a way to help these kids through this. My Son is good friends with the daughter and devastated for her and the incident. It will all come to light sooner or later but the community should rally around and figure out a way to lessen the blow/impact of this tragedy on these innocent loving children. May God be with them at this horrific time.
Jo December 20, 2012 at 05:29 AM
I agree 100% with this last person jeez people I am a very close friend of the family and I am devasted wait until the facts are clear and let the police do their jobs. We can't solve the crime but we as a community can help the children lets stick to what we know and leave the crime solving to the professionals. If you need gossip that bad go buy an enquirer magazine. This is about people lives we are dealing with right here in our town what if it was your family??
Rita Ramos December 20, 2012 at 03:38 PM
My heart goes out to this family!!! My son played basketball at Faith and plays football at ofhs with Arod and he is a great kid. This is a tragic situation and I hope they have strong family ties to help them through this difficult time.
Joe December 21, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Who is "Deb pahl Steam" & "Graham" you ppl seen this coming WHAT! You know nothing these were nice ppl and victims....i see where your going with this you should stop right there Perry Mason keep your unfounded speculations to your self its not wanted here!!
Chap December 21, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Before anyone leaves a comment, you need to consider the family. There are children involved here. We are called to show love on people. None of us are super-sleuths. We are a community and need to come together to help this family. Use not only discretion, but compassion. Are we that de/un-sensitized? Tragedy is not something to cast our opinion on. Let the OFPD do their job. If you want to do some good; donate clothing and toys and by all means;pray for this family.
OF Resident December 21, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Joe, for the children, I pray to god that this isn't a case of domestic violence!!! But, unless you live with someone, you have no clue what goes on behind closed doors. Just because someone is nice outside the home, and can put on a smile, doesn't mean that things are the same behind closed doors. Do you honestly think they (they meaning anyone suffering from domestic violence) goes around town and talks about it. No, it is a horrible, shameful, act that goes on right under everyone's noses, everyday, in every town. For the children's sake, maybe those type of comments should have not been posted, but don't assume that those people didn't know what was going on. Maybe your the one who really didn't know what was going on behind their closed door.
Patty LaBuda December 22, 2012 at 04:24 AM
I have read this entire thread because I too am a mother of a dauther who is close friends to the eldest daughter....this tradedy has affected my family...my daughter cries herself to sleep at night....there is more to this story...stop speculating and talking about suff that you do not know is fact....let the criminal investigaton do their jobs before you judge.
Jill December 26, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Well still, no one mentioned anything about why 2 people here "saw this coming".


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