6-year-old boy dies in fire after being left home alone with siblings on Far South Side

A 6-year-old boy died in a fire Wednesday in an Altgeld Gardens row house. Four other children were rescued by a neighbor. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“The neighbor made a valiant effort to rescue the children,” but she was unable to enter the bedroom where the child was due to heavy smoke and fire, a fire official said. A 6-year-old boy died in a fire after being left home alone with his siblings Wednesday night in the Altgeld Gardens neighborhood.
A neighbor noticed the blaze in the Far South Side row house about 9:45 p.m. and rescued four children before crews arrived, according to the Chicago Fire Department.
But the neighbor was unable to enter the second-floor bedroom where the fire started, fire department spokesman Larry Langford said.
Firefighters quickly doused the flames and searched the room’s top bunk bed, where they found the 6-year-old unresponsive.
Ron Johnson, 6, was rushed from the home in the 13000 block of South Evans Avenue to Roseland Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.
The child had burns on the majority of his body, Langford said.
The boy’s four siblings — ages 1, 4, 5 and 13 — were uninjured, according to police, who said the children were left home without adults.
Langford said the fire appeared to begin in the bunk bed where the child was found. But it’s still unclear what caused the fire, he said.

Chicago Fire Department
A boy died in a fire in the 13000 block of South Evans Avenue on Jan. 6, 2021, in Altgeld Gardens.

Langford credited the neighbor with saving the other children.
“The neighbor made a valiant effort to rescue the children,” but she was unable to enter the bedroom due to heavy smoke and fire, he said.
“It may have already been too late,” Langford said. “We credit the neighbor with keeping the tragedy where it was at, and without getting worse.”
The fire was limited to the unit where it started, and most of the damage was concentrated to the front bedroom where the child was found, Langford said.
He said the house had working smoke detectors.
The fire department planned to canvass the neighborhood Thursday morning to pass out smoke detectors and fire safety materials, which is standard procedure after a fatal fire, Langford said.
State welfare officials are investigating the child’s death, according to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
The agency had prior contact with the boy’s family, according to agency spokesman Bill McCaffrey.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Two windows were boarded up Thursday after a fire that killed a 6-year-old boy in the 13000 block of South Evans Avenue.

Contributing: Emmanuel Camarillo, Jermaine Nolen

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