Eight people, including six children, were killed when a fire broke out before dawn Sunday at a Chicago apartment in one of the deadliest fires in the nation’s third-largest city in years, officials say.
Two other people were hospitalized in very critical condition, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Merritt said. Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago told reporters that one of the children who died was an infant. Officials have not released the names or ages of the victims.
“We have not had this in many, many, many years — this amount of fatalities and injuries in one location,” Santiago said.
He said a woman who saw the blaze as she was returning home from work alerted people and gave them a chance to escape. She called 911 around 4 a.m., then began knocking on doors in the largely Hispanic Little Village neighborhood on the city’s southwest side, he said.
“So the female who did that saved a lot of lives,” Santiago said.
At least two buildings caught fire, one of them described by fire department officials as a coach house.
Video showed smoke coming from windows of a three-story building’s stone facade, with flames engulfing the back. Police officers helped push a stretcher toward an ambulance, while a paramedic simultaneously performed CPR. One woman lay on a street crying while someone tried to comfort her.
The cause of the blaze hasn’t been determined. The fire was put out by just after 5 a.m., fire department officials said.
Those killed were all from the same residence, Merritt said. He said investigators have not found working smoke detectors.
At least one firefighter was injured and was hospitalized in good condition.