(CHICAGO) Police and fire department investigators were looking into whether a fire Saturday morning in the West Side Lawndale neighborhood which killed a 30-year-old woman and left three others, including two young children, critically injured, was intentionally set.
There were no smoke detectors found in the two-story walk-up in the 4200 block of West 21st Place, Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford said.
There were no visible flames, but firefighters responding to the report of a fire in the home about 4:40 a.m. quickly realized something was terribly wrong.
A person lay injured in the front yard, then, officials say, the small blaze heated a first-floor bedroom window to the shattering point, breathing life to the fire, which shot out through the broken pane.
After breaking the front door down, firefighters found six victims -- two of them children -- and four who were very seriously hurt, District Chief Peter VanDorpe said of the fire.
One of those victims, a 30-year-old woman, died later Saturday morning, according to Fire Media Affairs.
“I can’t believe what I saw,” said Dominic Miranda, 28, who said he works for a company that boards up buildings after fires and just happened to be in the area when first-responders arrived on the scene.
One of the victims was a young girl was badly burned with “singed hair and skin peeling” and seemed to be barely breathing, he said.
The flames which enveloped the first floor bedroom and part of a hallway were put out in a matter of minutes, VanDorpe said. But then came the matter of attending to victims.
A five-year old girl suffered burns to 100 percent of her body and a nine-year-old boy suffered burns to 35 percent of his, fire officials said. Both were taken in critical condition to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, officials said.
A 30-year-old man suffered burns to 90 percent of his body and a 30-year-old woman suffered 80 percent burns, according to Fire Media Affairs. The two, who authorities believe are the children’s parents, were taken in critical condition to Mount Sinai Hospital. The woman later died from her injuries, Fire Media said.
The remaining victims were two women, ages 84 and 60, who were taken to St. Anthony Hospital with minor injuries related to smoke inhalation, authorities said.
VanDorpe declined to comment on what may have sparked the blaze, but said the police Bomb and Arson Unit, as well as the CFD Office of Fire Investigations, were investigating the cause of the fire.
At least eight people were displaced by the fire, which left the home uninhabitable, VanDorpe said.
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