Chicago apartment fire kills six children

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Monday, September 4, 2006

Six children aged between 3 and 14 died early Sunday in an apartment fire on the 7700 block of Marshfield Ave on the north side of Chicago, IL. The fire also injured the victims' mother and three other siblings. Authorities say that candles are suspected as the cause, and that the apartment had had no electricity since May.

The three-bedroom apartment on the third-floor did not have a smoke detector, officials say. Commonwealth Edison spokesman John Edison declined to comment on why the electricity was turned off for the apartment.

Fire Commissioinor Raymond Orozco told the media, "This is the largest multiple fire fatality we've had from a single fire in quite a few years. I mean it's children. It's difficult for everyone involved."

Witness Cmdr. Will Knight said, "The mother came running out with one child in her arms, screaming to the neighbors that there were other children inside."

Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said that the children were found in the front room, huddled not far from where the fire started. He added that the fire broke out shortly after midnight.

Witness Al Tillman, 32, said that he was visiting a friend when he heard the children cry for help. He ran up to the third floor, where he managed to grab a boy's arm and drag him out to the waiting paramedics.

Tillman said, "I'm shaken up because the other children didn't make it. I only heard one child. I wish I could have saved the others."

One man said that he and several others tried to get into the building, but the intense heat forced them to turn around.

Later, people held a blanket under one of the apartment's windows, asking them to jump down. Firefighters retrieved the children remaining by ladder.

The mother is hospitalized with three other children. The Court County's medical examiner indentified the children as Vanessa Ramirez, 14; Eric Ramirez, 12; Suzette Ramirez, 10; Idaly Ramirez, 6; Kevin Ramirez, 3; and Escarlet Ramos, 3. Escarlet Ramos has been listed as living at a different address, but details regarding this have not been revealed.