Two young children were killed and four adults suffered burn injuries after a two-story home caught fire in Ingleside late Thursday night, authorities said.
By the time firefighters arrived at the home just before 11 p.m. in the 35000 block of Hunt Road, the first and second floors and the home's roof were fully engulfed by flames, authorities said.
Community members stopped by the home Friday and left flowers, balloons and teddy bears to remember the two young girls who lost their lives.
“It’s just a tragedy that this happened,” said family friend Bridget Lavelle.
The Lake County Coroner identified the girls as 5-year-old Autumn Evans and 8-year-old Elizabeth Evans. Firefighters found the sisters dead on the second floor of the their home.
“The girls will never be forgotten," Lavelle said. "They were just the sweetest, I can’t even explain. They’re always laughing and smiling.”
Lavelle used to work with the girl’s mom at Sav-A-Pet.
“It’s just very, very sad for my friends," she said. "They’re like family to me, and they’re just a wonderful family. I can’t say enough good things about them."
Neighbors said the mom tried to save her daughters, but couldn’t.
“She tried to go to get the kids, but she must’ve caught on fire," neighbor Kathleen Donnelly said. "She burned herself and then she tried to climb out the window, and they were trying to catch her."
Six people were home at the time of the fire—the two girls, their mom, their 17-year-old brother and maternal grandparents.
“I found out by hearing all the sirens and wanting to know what happened,” said family friend Anthony Falcone.
Falcone is best friends with the girls' brother. Both attend Grant Community High School.
“He had to jump out a window from the second story just like the mom,” Falcone said. “The father wasn’t here, so he wasn’t in there.”
Friends are just hoping the four surviving family members will make a full recovery.
“I know it’s going to be a tough road ahead, but they’re a strong family, and they have great support and the community support would mean a lot to them,” Lavelle said.
The Fox Lake Fire Protection District is investigating the cause of the fire with help from the Illinois State Fire Marshal.
Lavelle is raising money to help the family and even started a drive at Gavin Central School where people can drop off any donations.