September 3, 2006

Six children dead in Chicago fire

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Six children were killed early Sunday
morning, and their mother and three siblings seriously injured,
when a fire believed to be started by a candle tore through an
apartment with no electricity or smoke detectors, authorities

Two of the four survivors were in critical condition, local
media reported.

The blaze, in the working class Rogers Park neighborhood on
the city's north side, started shortly after midnight (O400
GMT), Commander Will Knight of the Chicago Fire Department told
Reuters. It remained confined to the third-floor, three-bedroom
apartment where the family of 10 lived, he said.

Five of the dead children were aged 3, 3, 6, 10 and 12,
said fire commissioner Raymond Orozco in a press conference on

Orozco was uncertain of the age of the sixth child who died
but local media, citing the Cook County Medical Examiner's
office, said she was 16.

"This is obviously a very tragic day for this family," said
Orozco, who said the deaths were the most in a Chicago fire in
many years.

The first call reporting the blaze came in at 12:18 a.m.
(0418 GMT). Within four minutes, fire units were on the scene,
where they saw heavy smoke pouring from the top floor.

Knight said the apartment had no electricity or smoke
detectors and that investigators found candles throughout the

Tenants in the first and second floors of the brick
building were allowed back into their apartments before

The medical examiner's office declined to provide a cause
of death for any of the six, so it was unclear whether they
were killed by smoke inhalation or burns.