CHICAGO (CBS) — Eight children, ranging in age from 3 months to 16 years old, died in a fire overnight in the 2200 block of South Sacramento in the Little Village neighborhood.
Two others, one adult and one child, were taken to the hospital in very critical condition, suffering from smoke inhalation. according to Chicago police.
The children range in age from three months old to 16 years old. All the victims were found on the second floor. Family members said some of the children were at the apartment for a sleep over.
Family members identified the victims as: Amaya Almaraz, 3 months; Ariel Garcia, 5 years old; Lonni Ayala, 3 years old; Gialonni Ayala, 5 years old; Xavier Contreras, 11 years old; Nathan Contreras, 13 years old; Giovanni Ayala, 10 years old and Victor Mendoza, 16 years old.
Marcos Contreras struggled to cope with the magnitude of the tragedy.
“It just feels like my whole world is crashing,” he said. “It’s my worst nightmare. I don’t know how I’m going to wake up to get back to life with my brothers and sisters six feet under. ”
Neighbors tell CBS 2’s Vi Nguyen that they heard a commotion and then a loud bang right before the fire.
Another neighbor hear the sound of firecrackers and then heard somebody pounding on her window, telling her to get out.
The extra alarm fire broke out in an enclosed porch behind a coach house behind a three-flat gray stone apartment building around 4:30 a.m.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office has been notified. Spokeswoman Natalia Derevyanny said the deceased have not been identified and autopsies have not yet been scheduled.
“We have not had this in many, many, many years,” said fire Commissioner Jose Santiago. ‘This is a very tragic incident.”
One of the children who died was an infant, Santiago said.
Volunteers with the Red Cross were on the scene Sunday morning, assisting other residents who were displaced by the fire.