Northwest Side apartment burglarized 6 days before fatal fire, source says

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A fatal fire on the city's Northwest Side could be arson.

Two women died in the garden apartment of the two-flat.

A source tells WGN there was a burglary at the garden apartment six days ago: Is that a coincidence, or is it directly related to this fire the fire department is calling "very suspicious?"

The two flat is all boarded up Friday but just before 11 p.m. Thursday it was filled with smoke.

Leslie Gonzalez lives on the top floor with her mom and brother. Her mother smelled something and heard the smoke detectors.

"She walked over to the back door where the beeping noise was and opened the door and the black smoke started coming out," Gonzalez said.

They got out okay and realized the thick black smoke was coming from the garden apartment where two women and a man lived, all in their twenties.

The fire department got there quickly. The man wasn't home. One woman was already dead while the other passed away on the way to the hospital.

"I was really hoping that it was nothing major. And then to hear the news we heard about the two girls. It's sickening. I just don't get it," said neighbor Joel Gonzalez.

What's sickening to Joel Gonzalez is the possibility this fire was intentionally set. We know a dog sniffed on a spot that was possibly an accelerant -- a sample of that is now being tested.

We know the landlord inspected the building a week ago and all the apartments had working smoke detectors, but Thursday night, firefighters found only mounts in the basement apartment. The smoke detectors had been removed.

Still, this was an opportunity for the fire department to hand out the devices to neighbors who don't have them.

"Thank God they were not there either," Leslie Gonzalez said.

Leslie's brother, wife and three small boys live on the first floor. They are out of town. She says they're grateful for that and the inspection.

"If my family members, it  would have probably been ten of us...gone,"

The women have yet to be identified. The cause of death for the women has not been released pending further investigation.

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