Two young siblings killed in a deadly Englewood home fire early Saturday were reportedly left in an unsupervised home with two other children, according to Chicago Fire officials.
Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford said 911 received a call around 3:30 a.m. reporting a home in the 6400 block of South Paulina Street was on fire, and that two children were trapped inside according to NBC Chicago.
While a 7-year-old boy and his 4-year-old brother escaped the home, officials told the Sun-Times the “extensive” fire kept firefighters from reaching the rear bedroom where their 2-year-old sister and 3-year-old cousin were sleeping. Langford said firefighters made "a very aggressive search" for the two children.
The blaze that may have started in the room where the children perished was so intense it burned away part of the floor, forcing crews to break through the walls, reports DNAinfo Chicago. Firefighters even cut through the "burglar" bars on the windows to gain entry.
According to the Tribune, officials said at a news conference that firefighters eventually "found the two children cuddled up in a bed."
Around 6:30 a.m. fire officials said investigators learned there was no adult supervision in the home at the time of the deadly blaze, and that Chicago Police would be investigating that aspect of the incident.
The elder boys had reportedly fallen asleep watching cartoons, but awoke when their aunt came through the front door, calling out the children's names when she say the fire. Seven-year-old survivor Darnell recounted the heartbreaking scene to the Tribune, saying "I coughed, my auntie was choking. My sister was banging on the door."
The children's mothers were sisters, reports DNA, and may have lived in the house together.
"You don't want to hear anything like that this close to the holidays, and by being children, you know you don't want to hear that," neighbor Lorraine Jackson, who ran over to help, told ABC Chicago. Those two older children are reportedly now in DCFS custody.
A hot plate or space heater is thought to be the cause of the fire, according to Fire Media Affairs.
Shortly after the fire, officials said CFD would canvass the neighborhood at 10 a.m. to "pass out fire safety and smoke alarms."