2 Young Girls Found Dead, 4 Injured in Fire on Chicago's South Side

Two young girls were found dead and four other people were injured in a house fire on Chicago’s South Side Saturday night.

Around 10:30 p.m., firefighters responded to a fire in the 6600 block of S. Champlain Ave. in the city’s Woodlawn neighborhood, authorities said.

When crews arrived, they said the fire was already heavy and moving quickly, with reports of people trapped inside.

"Upon arrival, companies made an aggressive attack to try to knock that fire down and do a simultaneous search for any victims that were in there," said Chicago Fire Department Deputy District Chief Mike Carbone.

Two young girls were discovered in the basement of the residence and pronounced dead on the scene, officials said. They were later identified as 7-month-old Ziya Grace and 2-year-old Jamaii Grace, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

Another child, a 6-year-old boy, was rescued from the flames and taken in critical condition to Comer Children’s Hospital, authorities said. More than 75 percent of his body was burned, according to Ziya and Jamaii's great-grandmother. 

A 48-year-old woman and a 25-year-old woman, one of which was the young girls' mother, were able to escape the fire on their own. They were taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center where their conditions were stabilized, authorities said. 

A firefighter was also injured in the incident and taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center, according to fire officials, who said early Sunday that he was expected to recover.

The fire was knocked down in about 20 minutes, Deputy Chief Carbone said, but area residents described a terrifying scene as crews worked to put out the blaze.

"It was smoke out there, I said the basement is flaming – it’s fire," said neighbor Adrian Harris. "By the time I came outside, she was already at the corner, and she was coming back saying that there were some babies in the house."

"The mother just starts screaming, 'My baby, my baby, my baby,'" neighbor Doris Smith added. "I can still hear it ringing."

Smith said she knew the young girls lived in the building and sent her son to help. 

"I was just praying that he was going to come out okay... It's just so hard," she said. "I'm just heartbroken, I'm just so sorry that this happened."

Officials said the fire appeared to be accidental in nature, most likely caused by a stove that was being used as a heating source in the basement, though the incident remains under investigation.

Contact Us