A 12-year-old girl was found dead and four other people were injured after an extra-alarm fire broke out in a home late Friday in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on the South Side, fire officials said.
Firefighters responded at about 10 p.m. to the blaze in a two-and-a-half-story house in the 5000 block of South Carpenter, said Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford.
The fire started in the rear of the first floor and “rapidly moved up the back steps to the roof area,” Langford said. The blaze was quickly upgraded to an extra-alarm fire and six ambulances were dispatched to the scene.
“When they got to the scene they even couldn’t tell which building was on fire, the smoke was that heavy and dense,” Langford said.
Officials later determined the fire was caused by "careless use of smoking materials."
A group of people were apparently sleeping in the attic at the time of the fire and four individuals, all thought to be teenagers, jumped from the front window, Langford said. The only way in and out of the attic was the back stairs, which had been destroyed, and once the girl had been reported missing firefighters had to use a ground ladder to go in through openings in the front and sides of the building.
The girl, identified by family friends as Tatianna Joseph, was found dead near a closet in the attic area, Langford said. The Cook County medical examiner’s office could not immediately confirm the fatality.
A 16-year-old boy who jumped from the attic’s front window was taken in serious-to-critical condition to Stroger Hospital, Langford said. The other three people were taken to Holy Cross Hospital in fair-to-serious condition.
The fire was brought under control by about 10:50 p.m. and the building was rendered uninhabitable, Langford said. The cause remains under investigation.