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Chicago fire kills six children
BY MICHAEL TARM
CHICAGO - Children screamed "we're burning" early Sunday as an apartment fire, probably caused by a candle used for light because there was no electricity, killed six children ages 3 to 14, authorities said.
The victims' mother and three siblings were injured.
The third-floor, three-bedroom apartment on the city's North Side also had no smoke detector, Fire Commissioner Raymond Orozco said.
"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," Orozco said.
Commonwealth Edison spokesman John Dewey said the apartment hadn't had electricity since May, but he wouldn't say why it was turned off.
Firefighters found most of the children huddled in the apartment's front room, not far from the spot where the fire probably started, Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.
"It appears that candles were used in the apartment and right now our preliminary cause is that the candles were the cause of origin," Orozco said.
The fire broke out just after midnight, Langford said.
"Then the mother came running out with one child in her arms, screaming to the neighbors that there were other children inside," said Cmdr. Will Knight. "They asked her how many and she said 'eight.' "
"The kids were screaming and screaming, 'Help! Help! We're burning, we're burning,' " said neighbor Derrell Dixon, 22, who said he saw firefighters rescue one of the children with a ladder.
Al Tillman, 32, was visiting the area when he heard the children yelling for help. He ran up to the third floor and crawled into the smoke-filled apartment, where he managed to grab a child's arm. He dragged the boy out and handed him to paramedics.
"I'm shaken up because the other children didn't make it," Tillman said. "I only heard one child. I wish I could have saved the others."