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Baby, woman die in Englewood fire: ‘It was like hell,’ firefighter says

Mi'Leyah Denise Johnson

Mi'Leyah Denise Johnson

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Updated: November 17, 2013 6:24AM

When Dant’e Webb noticed his neighbor’s house in Englewood on fire Tuesday morning, he kicked in the front door.

Moments earlier a woman who owns the home told Webb she’d been baby-sitting an 11-month-old girl who was still inside.

“I got low because the smoke was coming out,” said Webb, who began yelling to see if anyone was home. “I basically made it as far as I could before it got too bad for me.” Police arrived and yelled for Webb to get out. “I was leaving out when the ceiling fell in,” he said.

The baby, identified by family and friends as Mi’Leyah Denise Johnson, did not survive. Neither did 49-year-old Geneva White, who was also home at the time.

The fire started around 10:30 a.m. and quickly spread to two other homes on the 6700 block of South Emerald, one of which was vacant.

“It was obvious from the intensity of the fire when crews arrived that it would be next to impossible for anyone to have survived,” Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said. Flames intensified so much that firefighters could not enter the house.

“It was like hell, fire was blowing out the windows on every floor,” said a veteran firefighter at the scene.

Webb, 33, said he wasn’t the only person to try to attempt to rescue the infant: “Some other guys broke the front window and were feeling on the couch for the baby, because that’s where the owner said it was, but it ended up being a different couch.”

The three house fires were extinguished by noon.

Once inside, firefighters found the infant on the first floor and the woman on the second floor, Langford said.

Family members, including the baby’s mother, who was on the scene for much of the day, provided few details.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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