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2-Month-Old Girl Dies In West Side Fire

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Tiniya Coleman

Tiniya Coleman, 2 months, was killed in a fire on the city’s West Side early Monday. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 06/20/11 11:03 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – A 2-month-old girl died in a fire overnight on the city’s West Side, after finding herself trapped inside her family’s burning home.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the girl, Tiniya Coleman, was found around 2 a.m. in her bedroom on the first floor of a two-story house at 831 N. Laramie Ave. in the South Austin neighborhood.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation as of 11 a.m. Monday, and police and fire investigators have been at the house looking for evidence. A fire chief said the blaze did not appear to be suspicious.

Earlier Monday, Tiniya’s mother, Ashley Coleman, 15, talked about her loss. She said Tiniya had big cheeks and a big personality for such a small baby.

“She was just with me, and then that happened. I think about it a lot,” Ashley Coleman said. “She was always smiling, laughing, trying to sit up and look at everybody. She was a happy baby.”

Ashley said she ran back to the baby’s room at the time of the fire, but it was too smoky and she couldn’t find the baby.

Nine adults and four children were displaced by the fire, Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford said. Flames from the fire blew out the window of the bedroom and caused minor damage to a home next door at 835 N. Laramie Ave., but four people living there were able to get out in time.

Percy Royster was one of the nine people who ran out of the house when the flames erupted.

“I knew I had to get out of there,” he said.

A total of 76 firefighters responded to the scene from the fire station at Lamon and Chicago avenues. Upon finding the baby, a firefighter grabbed her off the bed and rushed the child to an ambulance.

But it was too late. The girl was taken to West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park where she died, Langford said.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports

Upon hearing the girl died, Royster said he was “sad; still sad.”

No one else was reported injured in the blaze, which began on the mattress where the baby was found, according to Langford.

Residents who lived in the house said they have heard the fire might have been electrical in nature, but authorities have not confirmed that.

Family members said the flames were mostly contained to the bedroom where Tiniya was, while the rest of the house mostly sustained smoke damage.

A smoke detector was found in the house, but was not working due to a dead battery, Langford said.

A fire chief later Monday morning emphasized the importance of smoke detectors, and neighbors agreed.

“They’re very important; they save lives,” Royster said, adding he thought Tiniya would likely be alive if there had been working smoke detectors.

“I can’t say for sure, but it’s very much possible,” he said.

And saving future lives is what firefighters spent the morning doing in the neighborhood, by passing out smoke detectors to neighbors.

The Chicago office of the Red Cross said in a message on its official Twitter feed that its personnel are on the scene early Monday helping those affected.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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