Officials say 9th child has died after Little Village fire; arson not likely

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CHICAGOOfficials said a ninth child has died after a fire in Little Village on Sunday, as investigators try to determine a cause for the fire.

The fire happened around 4 a.m. Sunday during a sleepover in a second-floor unit of a coach house in the 2200 block of South Sacramento Avenue, where older siblings were watching over the younger ones.

The children killed ranged in ages from 3 months to 16 years old. Three of the victims have been identified as Ariel Garcia, 5, Xavier Contreras, 11, and Nathan Contreras, 13. Cesar Contreras, 14, was identified as the ninth victim.

Chicago’s Bomb and Arson Squad, the Office of Fire Investigations and the ATF are looking into the cause and have ruled out electrical and will most likely rule out arson. Officials are looking at fireworks remains that were on the back porch and smoking material including cigarettes. The building failed four of seven inspections in the last three years.

On Monday, firefighters handed out smoke detectors for free to everyone on the block where the tragedy happened.

“When we lose one life, its too many lives,” said Chicago Fire Department Deputy Chief Annette Nance Holt. “So today, it’s even more critical because we lost eight people to a fire and that’s unheard of in the city of Chicago. We haven’t lost this many people, I can’t even count back to when we lost this many lives, and these are young people.”

A memorial for the children with crosses, stuffed animals and balloons is growing  near the scene of the tragedy.

A GoFundMe has been set-up to help the family cover burial costs.

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