1-year-old girl killed, several injured, including children, in West Lawn fire

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A 1-year-old girl was killed and several other people, including children, were hospitalized after a fire in Chicago's West Lawn neighborhood Wednesday morning, authorities said.

The fire broke out in the attic of a home in the 6000-block of South Kenneth Avenue at about midnight, Chicago police said.

A mother and father living on the attic level, where fire officials said the flames broke out, were rushed to Christ Hospital in critical condition. Their 1-year-old daughter did not survive and their 2-year-old daughter is fighting for her life.

Five others, a 5-month-old child, two boys, ages 12 and 14, and two women, ages 28 and 40, were transported to hospitals and have since been released.

Relatives were at the hospital Wednesday morning heartbroken.

"What I heard is that the fire was just on when they woke up," relative Elizabeth Hernandez said. "It's really hard. The only thing we can say is that we are with them no matter what happened."

The owner of the home lived on the first floor. He and his family including his two children and his five-month-old got out and are going to be OK, according to family members.

Witnesses said the family was terrified trying to get out of the house and get the children to safety.

"A mother was rushing out with her infant baby and the family was rushing out but there were some rushing back in the house to help the other siblings. I was just hoping and praying that all of them would make it out safe and all of them would be alive," neighbor Selena Ledezma said. "At first it (the fire) was just coming up from the attic. We saw the flames and then the next thing you know the air conditioner explodes, and the windows come out. And then the flames in the fire just got worse eventually."

Another neighbor said she couldn't describe the pain the family must be experiencing.

"It's really hard when you lose somebody, you know. Especially the little baby," Ana Reley said.

Authorities said two brothers lived in the home with their families, with one family on the first level and the other in the attic. Authorities said there are no smoke detectors in the attic where the fire started. There were working smoke detectors on the first floor. Firefighters passed out free smoke detectors in the neighborhood to remind residents of their importance, as flowers were placed outside the boarded-up home.

"Just wanna make sure that everybody remind everybody to make sure you have working smoke detectors," Chicago Fire Chief Joseph Rispoli said. "There were working smoke detectors on the first floor, but there wasn't any at this time on the second."

Fire officials said no permit was ever pulled from the city for a second floor apartment to exist. They said the city will be following up on that.

Meanwhile, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
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