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Coroner: Woman died of smoke inhalation

Reports indicate Kotowski may have been served court papers

Published: Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012 6:52 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 2:17 p.m. CDT

The Morris woman found dead in her garage when firefighters fought to extinguish a house fire appears to have died from smoke inhalation.

Grundy County Coroner John Callahan said Sunday tests are still being done, but preliminary results indicate Charisse P. Kotowski, 61, of 1624 Creek Dr., died of smoke inhalation.

Morris Fire Chief Tracey Steffes said an accelerant was used in the garage and throughout the house, which was probably gasoline. Authorities said Friday that, although the fire appeared to be arson, the community was not in danger.

Morris Fire Protection and Ambulance District were called to the house Friday morning after a neighbor called 9-1-1 when he saw smoke coming out of the garage door. The neighbor tried to bang on the door of the residence, but got no answer.

Morris Police Chief Brent Dite said Sunday investigators were looking into the fact that court papers may have been served or were attempting to be served to Kotowski on Friday.

Other published reports state a neighbor believed she was served with eviction papers.

When firefighters arrived Friday, Steffes said, heavy smoke was evident in the garage and could also be seen through the windows in the first floor of the brick residence.

The garage door was forced open and firefighters extinguished the fire. Upon searching for people, the victim was found. No other victims were found after continuous searches.

Arson investigators from MABAS 15 and the Illinois Fire Marshal’s Office were on scene, as were Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigators.

Morris, Coal City and Minooka fire were all on scene, as were Morris police, Grundy County Sheriff’s deputies and the Grundy County Coroner’s office.

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