By F.N. D'ALESSIO, Associated Press Writer 17 minutes ago
Fire swept through a third-floor apartment on Chicago's North Side early Sunday, killing six children and injuring their mother and three siblings, authorities said.
Candles may have caused the fire, officials said.
Fire Commissioner Raymond Orozco confirmed reports from neighbors that the family had been without electricity for at least a month and had been relying on candles for light.
"What do you say?" Orozco said. "There's nothing you can say. It's been the worst in a long time. The only thing you can do is just pray for these poor people."
The three-bedroom apartment in the Rogers Park neighborhood had no smoke detectors, he said.
The fire broke out at about 12:20 a.m. on the third floor of a large apartment building, Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.
A passerby noticed smoke coming out of the apartment window and got help, said Cmdr. Will Knight.
"Then the mother came running out with one child in her arms, screaming to the neighbors that there were other children inside," Knight said. "They asked her how many, and she said eight."
A neighborhood man rescued one child after running up three flights of stairs and bursting into the apartment, witnesses said.
When firefighters arrived, they saw a child at a third-floor window, Langford said. That child was rescued by ladder.
Other firefighters went up the stairwell and found the children who died huddled in the apartment's front room, not far from where the fire is believed to have started, Langford said.
Five of the dead were identified by the Cook County medical examiner's office as Natalie Ramirez, 16; Eric Ramirez, 12; Suzette Ramirez, 10; Idaly Ramirez, 6; and Kevin Ramirez, 3. Another girl remained unidentified.
Four children were dead at the scene, officials said. Firefighters tried to resuscitate the victims on the street, then took them to hospitals.
The mother and one child were in stable condition at the same hospital, a nursing supervisor said. Another child was dead on arrival at a different hospital, and a third child taken to that hospital died shortly after being transferred to the University of Chicago Hospitals, officials said.