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8 killed in West Side Fire, including 6 children: "I can not live without my babies"



Early Sunday morning, eight people were killed in Little Village on the west side – including six children – in an extra alert, officials said.

A teenager and a young adult were hospitalized in very critical condition, and a firefighter was hospitalized in good condition.

Fire department officials had no age of killed people, or information about how the fire started in the 2200 block of South Sacramento Avenue.

When the sun rose, it broke through clouds, a large crowd gathered in front of Mount Sinai Hospital, where some of the victims were taken. They were quiet and walked up and down until they heard about the deaths.

The family and friends packed up and cried. A little boy crouched on the ground and buried his head in his hands. A woman stumbled and reached for the cement wall of the hospital.

"I can not live without my babies," cried a woman.

Firefighters were called shortly before 4, said firefighter Larry Merritt. The fire included at least two buildings, including a carriage house.

The killed and injured were all transported from the same residence, Merritt said. He said investigators had found no functioning smoke detectors.

The houses were south of a main business corridor on Cermak, populated with restaurants and shops. At the corner of Cermak Road and Sacramento, the emergency crews staged a massive scene.

Denise Mercado was sitting on the sidewalk of Cermak, surrounded by her five young children. She had tears in her eyes as the family crouched. Her daughter held her toddler brother while her son clung to his knee.

The family was awakened from the sound of smoke, and Mercado pushed to make sure all five children came out of the house. Her little son picked up the toddler and ran out. The other children followed him.

"I carried my brother," said the little boy softly.

Mercado said officers would lure people out of the block. "The flames … it was huge," she said in Spanish.

After the fire was extinguished, residents who were evacuated stood at the corner and watched the crews spark sparks. Red barrier tape in front of Sacramento.

A woman living nearby saw seven people rolled out of the buildings on stretchers. Several were covered, she said.


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