Glen Oak Towers Fire Death Result of Lit Cigarette

May 10, 2017

A man who died in the fire last month at Glen Oak Tower in Peoria was asleep, when a lit cigarette incinerated his couch and the rest of his one-bedroom apartment.


That’s the conclusion of a joint investigation by the Peoria Fire Department and the Peoria County Coroner’s office.

Peoria Fire Investigator Brad Pierson says the department ruled the cause of death was carbon monoxide inhalation.

“The layer and smoke and superheated gases was probably only 2-3 feet off the floor, if that, and once he took that deep breath, he fell to the floor, and that’s where our firefighters found him,” Pierson said.

The victim, 42-year-old Scott Urbanc, was transported to the hospital on April 16 with burns over nearly 90-percent of his body.

Coroner Jamie Harwood says the severity of the burns Urbanc sustained would have been enough for him to succumb to the fire.

“That included first, second, and third degree burns,” Harwood said.

The Coroner says the victim was also on a medication that causes drowsiness. But ultimately, based on the toxicology results and fire investigation, they concluded that Urbanc likely died from inhaling the poisonous gas, before sustaining the severe burns.

The Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood, Peoria Fire Prevention Chief Phillip Macklin and Peoria Fire Investigator Brad Pierson report the findings of their joint investigation.
Credit Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The fire was contained to Urbanc’s 12th floor apartment.

Chief of Fire Prevention Phillip Macklin says as a result of the fire, the entire 12th floor is undergoing renovation.

Building owners aren’t required to install sprinklers in every unit, but Macklin says the fire department would applaud that response.

Glen Oak Towers is a public-private housing partnership for seniors and those with disabilities.

The April 16 fire at Glen Oak Tower displaced 15 other residents, who were transferred to other public housing facilities.