Vigil being held for victims of South Chicago fire

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A community is outraged and still in mourning three days after a fire that killed three young girls and their neighbor. (WLS)

A community is outraged and still in mourning three days after a fire that killed three young girls and their neighbor.

The family of the girls who died in the fire plan to hold a vigil along with neighborhood residents. Meanwhile investigators are still looking for who caused the fire.

Police questioned and released one person of interest Thursday. They're still questioning a second person, who has an arson conviction on their record.

Shanieka Bew carefully placed several expressions of love as a neighborhood struggles to cope with the fatal fire that claimed the lives of a man and three young sisters in the 8100-block of South Essex Avenue.

"I just wanted to feel like I was giving them something personally. I don't know, it's the least I can do," Bew, a neighborhood resident, said.

The roses and balloons join a collection of homemade posters, teddy bears and candles that now line the gate of the courtyard building where 3-month old Melanie Watson, 4-year old Madison Watson, and 7-year old Shaniyah Staples were killed.

Heartbroken relatives remain angry as fire officials say the blaze may have been intentionally set.

When I heard the fire was started in two different places to trap them in there, now, that is premeditated evil," Ernest Wallace, a relative, said.

Calls for help from the South Chicago neighborhood began just before 2 a.m. Tuesday.

In all nearly 200 firefighters arrived to find the 32-unit apartment building located near 81st and South Essex Avenue engulfed in flames. Witnesses say the stairwells were consumed by fire.

Kirk Johnson, 56, also perished in the extra alarm blaze. He was found in his third floor apartment.

Jemelia Caldwell says Johnson, who is her mother's cousin, had lost touch with the family over the last few years.

"I just wanted to come by to just show my respect. I didn't really know him like that," Caldwell said.

Meanwhile, clean-up crews continued their work Friday, as some of the people who live in the building, who've been displaced by the fire, return to salvage what they could.

Funeral arrangements for the victims are pending. Friday's vigil is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Related Topics:
apartment firechild killedarson investigationman killedSouth Chicago
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