Two of six children died Wednesday during a midday fire in their southwest suburban Hickory Hills home.
The boys, 3-year-old Raed Saleh and his 4-year-old brother, Ayob Saleh, were found unconscious and unresponsive in an upstairs bedroom of their home, in the 8900 block of Emerald Court, and taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn where they later died.
When fire crews arrived, they found the mother of the children in the front yard in a state of panic, said Roberts Park Fire Protection District Chief Jeff Ketchen. She was not injured.
"She briefly looked for the children," said Ketchen. "She was unable to find them. She went out to the neighbors home to ask for them to help with the 911 call, and the call came from another house."
Four other children who lived in the home were in school at the time.
The family, according to neighbors, is originally from Yemen and had lived in the home for about six years. The father owns or manages a convenience store in the area and the mother stays at home with the children.
"It's a sad tragedy to the family and to the community and all I can say is we suffer a great loss. Two young kids getting burned, it's very, very sad," said family friend Taha Saleh.
The fire was put out in about 15 minutes and no firefighters were injured.
A cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but it's believed it started in the family room on the first floor. The second floor of the home has significant smoke damage, and it's presumed the boys died of smoke inhalation.
"I don't think there's any reason to consider this a suspicious fire," said Ketchen.
Official word on the boys' cause-of-death is expected to be released Thursday.