The death toll has risen to seven, ranging in age from 20 years to three days old, after a fire tore through a three-flat building in southwest suburban Cicero early Sunday.
Victims included a 20 year-old male, two females aged 19 and 18, 16-year-old twins (a male and a female), a three year-old child and a three day-old infant, according to town spokesman Ray Hanania. Three firefighters were also suffered non life-threatening injuries battling the flames.
Twenty-four people who lived at the residence are being cared for Sunday afternoon by the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, organization spokesperson Kristin Claes said.
“We’re looking into why this fire took place and what may have resulted in such a tragic loss of so many people in one building,” Hanania said Saturday afternoon.
Crews first responded to the fire at 3034 S. 48th Ct., around 6:30 a.m. when a girl living at the residence with her mother and siblings called 911.
“By the time they got there, the fire just raged through the building,” he said.
Sixty firefighters from six departments responded to combat the extra-alarm blaze, which spread to two adjacent buildings before it could be extinguished.
Resident Lorraine Santana told The Chicago Tribune that she was sleeping when she awoke to screams. She escaped one of the damaged structures with her three children and a dog.
"I'm relieved my kids are safe,'' Santana said.
Emergency officials still don’t know exactly how many people live at the residence.
“There may have been four or five families in there, we don’t know,” Hanania said.
Hanania said that questions about possible over-occupancy at the residence was a topic he is “definitely going to look at this week,” in the wake of the deadly blaze.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.