8 killed in West Side fire, including 6 children: ‘I can’t live without my babies’


Eight people were killed — including six children — in an extra-alarm fire early Sunday morning in Little Village on the West Side, officials said.

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

Fire officials did not have ages of the people killed, or information about how the fire started in the 2200 block of South Sacramento Avenue.

As the sun rose, breaking through hazy clouds, a large crowd gathered outside Mount Sinai Hospital where some of the victims were taken. They were quiet and pacing until they received word of the fatalities.

The family and friends gripped each other and cried. A little boy crouched on the ground and buried his head in his hands. A woman staggered and grabbed the cement wall of the hospital for support.

“I can’t live without my babies,” a woman cried.

Firefighters were called just before 4 a.m., Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Merritt said. The blaze enveloped at least two buildings, including a coach house.

Those killed and injured were all transported from the same residence, Merritt said. He said investigators had not found working smoke detectors.

The homes were just south of a main business corridor on Cermak populated with restaurants and shops. Emergency crews staged a massive scene at the corner of Cermak Road and Sacramento.

Denise Mercado sat on the sidewalk on Cermak, surrounded by her five young children. She had tears in her eyes as the family huddled together. Her daughter held her toddler brother while her son held on to her knee.

The family was roused from sleep when they smelled smoke, and Mercado hustled to make sure all five children got out of the house. Her young son scooped up the toddler and ran out. The other children followed.

“I carried my brother,” the little boy said quietly.

Mercado said officers were ushering people away from the block. “The flames…it was huge,” she said in Spanish.

After the fire was extinguished, residents who were evacuated stood on the corner, watching as crews doused sparks of flame. Red crime scene tape blocked off Sacramento.

A woman who lives nearby saw seven people wheeled out of the buildings on stretchers. Several were covered, she said.

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