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Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

Little Village Fire That Killed 10 Kids Was Caused By A Flame, Officials Say — But That Doesn’t Mean Foul Play

The August blaze killed 10 children between the ages of 3 months and 16 years, the city's deadliest fire in more than 40 years.

Neighbors and family created a memorial in the 2200 block of South Sacramento after a devastating fire killed eight children early Sunday.
Mauricio Pena/ Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — A fire that left 10 children dead in Little Village this summer has been classified as “incendiary” — meaning that it was caused by a flame, Fire Department officials said.

The August fire in the 2200 block of South Sacramento Avenue began in the back of the building and spread to the front, taking the lives of 10 children and becoming the deadliest blaze in the city in more than 40 years. The oldest of the victims was 16 and the youngest 3 months.

On Friday, Fire Department officials tweeted investigators determined they “cannot eliminate open flame ignition of available combustibles within the enclosed rear porch.”

Classifying a fire as “incendiary” means it was caused by something being burned and not by something like an electrical short. But that doesn’t mean the fire was intentional or foul play was involved.

For example, a fire that’s classified as incendiary could be started by someone lighting a candle and the candle flame catching on to a curtain.

Parents for the children were not home during the early morning fire, officials have said.

On Thursday, Judge Leonard Murray ruled that building owner Merced Gutierrez must demolish the back building where the fire broke out before July 18, according to court documents.