Baby, woman dead in South Side fire on South Emerald

October 15, 2013 (CHICAGO)

South Emerald Fire Photos

Police say the baby, an 11-month-old girl, and the woman were in the home where the fire began. The fire spread to two neighboring buildings. Officials are investigating, and have not released a cause.

Family members have identified the baby as Mi'leyah Denise Johnson.

Firefighters initially responded about 10:30 a.m. to a fire in a two-story home. The fire was put out around noon, dispatch reports said.

With flames shooting from the roof, it took more than 100 firefighters to control the blaze. The smoke was so thick, it was impossible for anyone to get inside where two people were trapped, including a baby.

"I kicked in the door. I went in the door... the roof fell in," said Dant'e Webb.

By the time firefighters arrived and got the fire under control, it was too late to save Mi'leyah Johnson and a woman family identify as Geneva White. Her husband was called to the scene and didn't know for at least two hours whether his wife was alive or not.

"I haven't been able to locate her," Jack White said.

Soon Mi'leyah's relatives arrived, including her distraught mother.

"She giggled and laughed and played. Oh God, this is going to be hard, it was my first granddaughter," said Cynthia Redmond, baby's grandmother.

M"leyah didn't live in the home. She was being cared for by Sarah Thomas, who is her baby sitter. Thomas stepped out of the house for seconds, she said, when the fire started.

"I came out of the house in two minutes to put out plastic garbage bottles like this, and turned around and saw a big building and smoke off the roof," said Thomas.

Thomas yelled for help; another resident of the home who was in the basement got out, but the fire spread so fast, even the firefighters couldn't get in right away to search.

"The first companies confronted with so much fire we were not able to gain access," said Dep. Commissioner John McNicholas, Chicago Fire Department.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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