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No Smoke Detectors in Home Where Fire Killed Infant, Woman, Official Says

By DNAinfo Staff on October 16, 2013 10:55am

 An infant and a woman were killed in an Englewood fire Tuesday, officials said
Englewood Fire
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ENGLEWOOD — Eleven-month-old Mileyah Denise Johnson's mother grew up in the same home where Mileyah and a woman perished in a fire Tuesday, family said.

Mileyah, who would have turned 1 on Oct. 29, was the sole child being cared for by a family member who helped raise Mileyah's mother, her two siblings and six cousins, said Mileyah's uncle Johnathan Redmond.

"My sister doesn't blame anybody for what happened," Redmond said.

A Chicago Fire Department official said Wednesday there were no smoke detectors in the single-family home at 6730 S. Emerald Ave when the fire started shortly before 11 a.m. Flames quickly spread to two neighboring homes.

After firefighters distributed smoke detectors on the block Wednesday morning, Deputy Fire Chief Chris Lyons said the fire started in the basement of the home before spreading to the first floor and quickly engulfing the building.

The fire department said the blaze was burning in the basement "for some time" before it was discovered.

Lyons said the cause of the fire remains under investigation, though it does not appear suspicious. An engineering analysis of the home's electrical systems needs to be conducted, the fire department said.

Mileyah, who lived in the 7200 block of South Peoria Street, was pronounced dead at the morgue at 1:10 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

"Mileyah was an active person, a girl who knew what she wanted to do," Redmond, a University of Illinois student, said of the girl he considered his daughter. "We have a running joke in the family that when I come home from college, make sure my daughter is waiting for me at home."

Geneva White, 49, who lived in the house that caught fire, also was pronounced dead at the morgue at 1:45 p.m. Tuesday.

White was the mentally-handicapped sister of the woman taking care of Mileyah, Redmond said. That woman, who Redmond described as a "grandmother figure to the family," may have simply stepped out to take out the trash when the fire started, according to Redmond.

Redmond said the woman was unavailable for comment.

Neighbors on Tuesday said the building doubled as a daycare center, but Redmond said Mileyah was the only child being taken care of in the home.

"The little girl was so happy and would always say 'Hey,'" said Artisha West, 33, who grew up in the neighborhood but doesn't live on the block anymore.

"I know this happened for a reason. I know my God don't make mistakes," said West, who added a memorial is planned on the block for 5 p.m. Wednesday.