Chicago Fire

City May ‘Never Know' What Sparked Blaze That Killed 10 Children

The fire claimed the lives of 10 children, but authorities say they may never know the exact circumstances around the blaze

The community will “probably never know” what exactly happened the night that 10 children were killed in a Little Village fire last summer, the Chicago Fire Department says.

On Friday, the Chicago Office of Fire Investigation ruled that it “cannot eliminate open flame ignition of available combustibles within the enclosed rear porch” as the cause of the fatal fire, which broke out in an apartment building on Aug. 26 of last year.

That ruling does not mean that the fire was set deliberately, however.

“We do know it was started by a human act,” a fire department spokesperson told NBC 5. “(That) does not necessarily mean it was arson.”

The spokesperson said that there were a number of ways the fire could have started, whether it was an open flame from a cigarette, or kids playing with fireworks, or any number of potential causes.

Because of that uncertainty, fire officials say that residents will “probably never know” exactly how the fatal fire started.

"We may never know the exact scenario that caused this tragic fire," the fire department said in a statement. 

The blaze rapidly tore through the building, killing all 10 children inside the apartment. The children ranged in age from three months to 16 years old, and were having a sleepover when the fire started.

The fire department also reminded residents that the building did not have working smoke detectors at the time, and that the devices could have helped save lives. 

"This loss of life could have been avoided if the apartment had working smoke detectors that could have alerted even one of those sleeping in time to evacuate all occupants," the department's statement read. 

This week, the Chicago Tribune reported that attorneys representing the city and the owner of the property reached an agreement to tear down the building. The building’s owner was cited for more than 40 code violations in the building after the fatal fire.

Contact Us