Eight people, including six children, were killed when a fire broke out early Sunday morning in a three-story residential building near the Little Village neighborhood on Chicago's West Side — one of the biggest tragedies the city's fire department has seen in years, officials say.
Officials said they received a call that a fire broke out at 2224 S. Sacramento Ave. around 4 a.m.
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Fire Commissioner Jose A. Santiago said the call came from a woman who said she came home from work and smelled the fire.
Video showed smoke coming from windows of a three-story building's stone facade, with flames engulfing the back. Police officers helped push a stretcher toward an ambulance, while a paramedic simultaneously performed CPR. One woman lay on a street crying while someone tried to comfort her.
Police say the victims were immediately found on the second floor (the first floor was vacant) of the structure, which was described as a "coach house." By the time fire crews got inside the building, seven people were already dead, officials say.
Two others, a teen and an adult were severely injured and transported to Stroger Hospital. One of the children who died was an infant, Santiago said.
A makeshift memorial along a nearby sidewalk included crosses for each child who died — a small Mickey Mouse doll set next to one. The Rev. Clifford Spears of Saint Michael Missionary Baptist Church led a crowd that gathered in prayer, the Chicago Tribune reported. A candlelight vigil was planned for Sunday night.
“We have not had this in many, many, many years, this amount of fatalities and injuries in one location," expressed Santiago. "This is very unusual.”
A firefighter lieutenant was also injured in the fire and transported to Rush hospital where he remains in good, stable condition, Santiago said.
The cause of the blaze was not immediately known. Officials also say it was unknown whether there were smoke detectors in the residence.
The American Red Cross planned to work with the Chicago Fire Department to canvass the neighborhood to ensure homes have functional smoke alarms installed, the CEO of the Chicago & Northern Illinois Red Cross, Celena Roldan, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.