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Baby, Woman Dead In Extra-Alarm Fire In Englewood

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UPDATED: 10/15/2013 4:20 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – An 11-month-old girl and a 49-year-old woman were killed Tuesday, when an extra-alarm fire damaged three homes in Englewood.

Sarah Thomas, who owns the home where the fire started in the 6700 block of South Emerald Avenue, said she was babysitting 11-month-old Mi’leyah Johnson, when she went outside to take out the garbage, and heard an explosion.

She said neighbors tried to go inside the home to save Mi’leyah and her sister, 49-year-old Geneva White, but were unable to reach them.


CBS 2′s Dorothy Tucker reports Mi’Leyah was found dead on the first floor, and White was found dead on the second floor after the fire was out.

Mi'Leyah Johnson (Family Photo)

Mi’Leyah Johnson (Family Photo)

Deputy Fire Commissioner John McNicholas said firefighters were called to the scene around 10:50 a.m. Even before the first crews arrived, 911 dispatchers called in a 2-11 alarm to bring additional help to the scene, based on the volume of calls about the fire, and reports of people trapped inside the home.

Family members told firefighters that a baby and an adult from the home were missing, but crews were unable to search the home when they arrived, due to the heavy flames throughout the home.

“I kicked in the door, and I tried to get the baby,” said witness Dant’e Webb. “The smoke was too much. I had to get out of there. As soon as I got out of there, the roof fell in.”

The fire quickly spread to the two neighboring homes north and south of the original fire, causing heavy damage to all three houses, according to McNicholas. In all, approximately 30 pieces of fire equipment and 100 firefighters were sent to the scene to bring the fire under control.

Heavy smoke clouds the view of three homes that caught fire in the 6700 block of South Emerald Avenue on Oct. 15, 2013. (Credit: Bernie Tafoya)

Heavy smoke clouds the view of three homes that caught fire in the 6700 block of South Emerald Avenue on Oct. 15, 2013. (Credit: Bernie Tafoya)

Crews got the fire under control just before noon, and even when it was out, firefighters were wary about entering the home where the fire started, because of the amount of damage.

“The structure is severely damaged. It has not collapsed, but it certainly has that potential, with the amount of structural damage from the fire,” McNicholas said.

Geneva White died when a house erupted in flames in Englewood.

Geneva White died when a house erupted in flames in Englewood.

No one else was injured in the fire.

As of early Tuesday afternoon, authorities had not determined the cause of the blaze. McNicholas said both the Fire Department Office of Fire Investigations and the Police Bomb and Arson Unit were investigating.

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