Firefighters cut the bars off a window of a burning home in the 6400 block of South Paulina Avenue in an attempt to reach two young children trapped inside. Both died in the fire, authorities said. / Photo from Fire Media Affairs.
Updated: December 24, 2012 1:20AM
Authorities say a hot plate being used for heat caused a fire that killed two young children in a West Englewood home early Saturday.
A resident who called 911 just before 3:30 a.m. told authorities young children were trapped inside the burning home in the 6400 block of South Paulina Street, Fire Media Affairs Chief Larry Langford said.
“Everybody concentrated and made a frantic search to find them,” said Langford.
But “extensive” fire made it difficult for firefighters to get into the rear bedroom where the flames started -- the same room where the children were located, authorities said.
Firefighters used a saw to cut the bars off a basement window to try and reach the children, but were unable to rescue the 2-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy, according to fire officials.
Chicago Fire Department officials initially thought a space heater may have caused the fire, but determined Saturday morning a hot place being used for heat sparked the flames. The house had no gas service, Langford said.
A relative was out of the home before crews arrived and was not hurt, officials said.
Crews have not found any working smoke detectors in the home, Langford said. The Chicago Fire Department will canvas the neighborhood starting at 10 a.m. to pass out smoke alarms and share fire safety information.
The fire left substantial damage to the basement and first floor of the two-story greystone building, and the home is uninhabitable. It was not yet clear early Saturday how many residents will be displaced.