Chatham apartment fire kills 1, displaces 6

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An early-morning apartment fire in the city's Chatham neighborhood killed one woman and displaced six family members, officials said.

Family members said the 39-year-old woman killed was a loving mother and grandmother taken too soon.

"(She) was a beautiful person," said Christine Triplett, Ashford's godmother. "She did a lot of things for her community; while she was around she was very loved."

Neighbors said the victim was in a third floor apartment when a fire broke out after 1 a.m. Sunday morning. They also say this was not the first fire that broke out overnight:

"I went out and threw the water down until the fire department came," said resident Rashad Brooks. "I went back in my apartment thinking that it was resolved until 45 minutes later. We hear another cry for a fire."

They rushed to get out.

"It was just really scary, a lot of flames," said resident Sierra Merriweather. "I was telling my fiance, 'Don't go try and put it out, let's just leave,' because I know that smoke can kill you."

Fire officials say they believe the fire did start on the third floor, although the exact cause is under investigation. It took crews over an hour to put the fire out.

"Over 100 firefighters on scene," said District Chief Tim Sampey, Chicago Fire Department. "Entry was difficult. We eventually laddered up and made entry through windows on the upper floor and put the fire out.

Six people were displaced in the fire. Brooks said the building is in foreclosure and tenants were told to move out at the end of October, and believes this fire may have been set on purpose.

"Could it be arson," he said. "I believe it could play a major role in it."

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