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Updated: February 15, 2010 08:57 IST

7 dead in Illinois apartment fire

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A burned house where seven people were killed in a fire is seen in Cicero, Ill., on Sunday. Photo:.AP
A burned house where seven people were killed in a fire is seen in Cicero, Ill., on Sunday. Photo:.AP

An early morning fire that ripped through a suburban Chicago apartment building on Sunday left seven people dead, including a newborn baby, a 3-year-old and four teenagers.

The death toll rose from four to seven Sunday as investigators searched through the charred remains of the three-story building in Cicero for victims and residents waited anxiously to hear word of their loved ones and neighbors.

“To happen on a day when families are usually coming together for love and life - Valentine’s Day - it makes it even more tragic,” said town spokesman Ray Hanania. “It impacted everybody, including the firemen.”

He said initial reports indicated the victims may have been related.

It was unclear how many people had lived in the building, making it difficult to account for residents.

Mr. Hanania estimated the number of residents was anywhere from 23 to 40 people. The building had two and three bedroom apartments.

The fire appeared to have started in the building’s attic, Mr. Hanania said, adding that the victims may have lived in the attic and on the second floor.

Authorities did not immediately release the victims’ identities, but said a 20-year-old male, a 19-year-old female, an 18-year-old female and a set of 16-year-old twins - a brother and sister - were among the victims.

The genders of the remaining two victims - a 3—day—old and 3—year—old - were not immediately known.

Three fire fighters suffered non life—threatening injuries, Mr. Hanania said.

Nearly two dozen other residents were taken to hotels in the Cicero area, which is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) southwest of Chicago.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

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