2 children killed in Hickory Hills fire

September 28, 2011 (HICKORY HILLS, Ill.)

Firefighters say when they arrived at the home on Emerald Court they found Raed Saleh, 3, and Ayob Saleh, 4, in an upstairs bedroom. They were both unresponsive and taken to a hospital where they died.

Relatives say the children's father, Omar Saleh, was on his way to work in Chicago, where he owns a gas station, when he was received a phone call that his house was on fire. When firefighters arrived at the scene, the children's mother was outside the home. She was not able to speak English but managed to communicate that people were trapped inside.

"They were able to find the kids very quickly. Unfortunately in this case, the fire was pretty advanced by the time we got there...so the chances of survival were pretty slim," said Chief Jeffrey Ketchen, Roberts Park Fire Protection District.

Friends and family say the children were just two of five children in the family. The other children were not home at the time.

Neighbors and relatives say Saleh came to the Chicago area several years ago from Yemen because he wanted more opportunities for himself and his children, who were born in the United States.

"Just knowing them and seeing them play around, and now knowing they're not there anymore...it's definitely heartbreaking," said Dr. Muhammad Tabriz, neighbor.

"I feel sorry. They are good people and good neighbors," said Fathi Mahmoud, neighbor.

"It's a tragedy. That's the most important thing to say. It's a tragedy. God's willing, what can we say, whatever he gives, he takes," said family friend Taha Saleh.

Investigators are looking into how the fire started.

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