Eight people, including six children, were tragically killed after a fire tore through a home in Chicago on Sunday morning.
One of the victims was just an infant.
A dog was also killed in the fire, while one teenager and an adult were hospitalized in very critical condition. A firefighter was hospitalized in good condition.
The cause of the fire has not been determined but no smoke detectors were found in the home, officials said.
The relationship between the adults and six children was not immediately made clear.
Jessie Cobos said he lost three children in the fire: Giovanni, 10, Gialanni, five, and three-year-old Alanni.
A wooden cross that one man hammered into the ground at the scene of the fire also included the names: Ariel, Xavier, Cesar, and Victor.
Cobos said he only found out about his children’s death when a pastor asked himt o come and pray for the family.
‘I never knew I was going to come pray for my own kids,’ he told the Chicago Tribune.
‘Anything could happen from one minute or the next. If I could only go back to last night and give my kids one more hug, let them know that they are loved.’
A group of people were gathered outside the hospital, waiting for news of their loved ones, when they were told about the fatalities.
‘I can’t live without my babies,’ one woman cried.
Commissioner José Santiago said the city has not had ‘this amount of fatalities and injuries in one location’ for ‘many, many years’.
The fire started on the second floor of the building. The first floor was vacant.
Firefighters were called to the West Side building just before 4am. The fire was put out by 5.10am.
Those who were killed and injured were all transported to the hospital from the same residence.
Santiago revealed the fire could have taken even more lives if it wasn’t for one quick-thinking woman who lived nearby.
‘She had just gotten home from work. She smelled it. I think she saw it,’ he said.
‘And then she started immediately knocking on doors, ringing doorbells.’
Santiago said the woman ‘saved a lot of lives’ amid the horrific tragedy.
The building failed its last inspection in June due to electrical issues, according to the Building Department website.
The fire also caused another structure two buildings down to catch alight.
No injuries were reported.
Red Cross workers were at the scene of the tragedy on Sunday morning to provide support and hand out food and drinks to the grieving community.
Celena Roldan, the Chief Executive Officer for the Red Cross in Chicago and Northern Illinois, said the organization would provide mental health support and help the affected families find financial assistance.
It will also help organize funerals and community memorials in the next few weeks.
The Red Cross also plans to work with the fire department to help install smoke alarms in the area.