House fire kills three children in Summit

SUMMIT, Ill. The flames spread so quickly that Ebony Tiggs did not have time to save her children.

The housing project where the family lived is scheduled for demolition later this year. The fire started at 7441 W. 63rd Place in southwest suburban Summit.

Twenty-five-year-old Tiggs moved into her home about two years ago with her children. She is in good condition at a nearby hospital. Her three children did not survive. They died of smoke inhalation.

Family members of the victims did not want to make any comments Wednesday, but neighbors were very vocal about what happened. They left a lot of mementos in front of the house and also talked about what they are calling a devastating fire.

"It was devastating. I never saw nothing like this in my life before," said Criselda Smith, neighbor.

Smith was still very much shaken hours after a fire swept through the apartment building where Smith's neighbor lived with her three young children. The mother, 25-year-old Ebony Tiggs, jumped out of the window, but her children were trapped inside.

"She was just screaming, 'Please, someone, please get my children,' " said Smith.

Virgel Iker was one of many neighbors who jumped into action trying to get inside and rescue the children. But he was turned back by the intense heat.

"We had another guy tried to run upstairs. But it was just too engulfed. We couldn't get through the fire," said Iker.

"There wasn't no way anyone could get in at all. They tried. They tried hard to get in that house but it was too much. They couldn't get in there," said LaShon Armstrong, babysitter.

Armstrong babysat the three children Tuesday, 8-year-old Jordan Robinson and her two younger brothers, 3-year-old Cory and 1-year-old Cameron Robinson. Jordan had just started third grade at Walker Elementary School in Bedford Park.

"Jordan, I remember, was extremely talkative, very social. Good student. Tried very, very hard. We're going to miss her dearly," said Angie Gronkowski, principal of Walker Elementary School.

Investigators Wednesday morning were trying to determine a cause for the fire. The Summit fire chief says the mother may have fallen asleep after lighting a candle and that the candle tipped over.

"From what we understand, that started the fire. But like I said, we're still investigating that to make sure," said Robert Wasko, Summit fire chief.

The apartment is in a Cook County Housing Authority building. Summit village officials had recently determined the complex should be demolished and replaced with senior housing. Residents were scheduled to move out by the end of the year. Village officials now wish it had happened sooner.

The Cook County Housing Authority says that there were working smoke detectors in their home.

The Village of Summit, as well as the fire department, are both planning some fundraisers in the near future for Ebony Tiggs. A prayer vigil was scheduled outside of the home for 7:30 Wednesday night.

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