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CHA will pay $5.75M in fire death lawsuit

CHICAGO (AP) - The family of a woman and her baby who died in an apartment fire about five years ago have won a $5.75 million settlement from the Chicago Housing Authority and the private agency that managed the building.

Shlonzo Burnett and her 1-year-old son were pulled from the 2001 blaze that started in their South Side apartment at the Harold Ickes Homes but later died from carbon monoxide poisoning, the family's attorney, Mark Brown, said Monday.

The fire started when two of Burnett's children started playing with matches, and investigators later found that their fifth-floor apartment did not have a smoke detector.

An inspector who worked for a CHA contractor admitted to lying on a report filled out before the fire that said the apartment had a smoke detector, Brown said.

The CHA said its policy states that each unit must have a working smoke detector.

"We're working to make sure these types of tragedies don't occur in the future," said Charles Levesque, deputy general counsel for the CHA.

Woodlawn Community Development Corp., which was the property managers of the Ickes homes at the time of the fire, declined to comment.

Burnett's brother, who is raising four of his sister's five surviving children, said the money will be used to pay for the children's education.

"You can't put a price on my sister or my nephew," said Rahshone Burnett. Shlonzo Burnett's fifth child is living with her father's aunt.

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