CHICAGO — A woman and her 5-year-old granddaughter died after being rushed to local hospitals from a fire in their South Shore apartment Wednesday, authorities said.
The fire erupted sometime before 9:15 a.m. in a three-story building in the 2000 block of East 79th Street, which houses a beauty salon on the first floor and apartments on the upper floors.
By 10:24 a.m., the fire had been extinguished, officials said. The two victims were taken from a bedroom in an apartment with no smoke alarm, Chicago Fire Department Chief Joe Roccasalva said.
Fire officials are investigating the cause of the flames. Based on preliminary information, the girl might have been playing with a lighter in a third floor apartment, said officer Jose Estrada, a Chicago Police Department spokesman.
The girl was sent to Comer Children's Hospital, and the 42-year-old grandmother was sent to Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center in "extremely critical" condition, officials said.
Both went into cardiac arrest and were pronounced dead at the hospitals soon after, the fire department said. They were later identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office as Suzette Dorsey, 42, and Alana Dorsey, 5.
Tanya Brooks, 53, has lived in the fire-damaged building for four years but was at work during the fire.
She said Alana had been living in the two-bedroom apartment across the hall from her with Suzette Dorsey and and her husband.
Brooks said the victims were "really really nice people" but Suzette Dorsey was "very sick" and "had health issues."
They had moved in about four or five months ago.
"She was a sweet little girl — I thought it was her daughter at first," Brooks said.
Naysia Jackson was a member of a fraternal organization with Suzette Dorsey.
"She was a nice person," Jackson said at the scene Wednesday. "I checked in on her."
While an employee of the auto shop next door to the apartment building said he didn't see much smoke from the fire, Brooks said her mother saw the fire and saw "just so much black smoke.
"She thought it had been smoldering for quite some time," Brooks said.
She said she didn't know if victims had a smoke alarm in their apartment but said hers is working fine.