A fire that started with a pizza box on a stove killed two young children on Chicago's Far South Side early Tuesday morning, officials said.
Destiney Myles, 3, and Jeremiah Myles, 1, died at the scene after their mother couldn't get back inside her apartment to save them.
The fire started around 3:15 a.m. in the 300 block of East 130th Street at Concord Place apartments. There were working smoke detectors in the apartment, officials said.
Chicago Fire Department Media Affairs Director Larry Langford said the fire was started by a stove or cooking accident. A boy under the age of 10 apparently started it while the mother was asleep, Langford said.
"A pizza box ... was sitting on top of the burner and it started to burn, and once she saw the flames, she threw house shoes at it and it just went over the entire house," said Eucita Broughton, the victims' aunt.
Authorities said the mother, Alicia Myles, woke up to her first-floor apartment filled with smoke and rushed out with her oldest child, a 6-year-old boy. But when she tried to get back inside for her 3- and 1-year-old, the door had automatically locked behind her.
"When you wake up and your house is full of smoke and fire, you don't think right," said Bob McKee, deputy district chief of the 6th District. "It's tough on us, but as a civilian? I can't even imagine waking up to those conditions and how you would react."
A police officer eventually was able to break down the door, officials said, but the officer was immediately pushed back by the heat and the flames inside the apartment.
The mother, who is seven months pregnant, was taken to Roseland Community Hospital in serious condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.
"She just keeps saying that her two babies are gone. They're gone," said Katherina Myles Cooper, the victims' grandmother. "She's traumatized."
The unborn baby is said to be OK.