Residents on the 8300 block of South Buffalo Avenue saw the smoke, heard the screams and tried to save lives.
Residents on the 8300 block of South Buffalo Avenue saw the smoke, heard the screams and tried to save lives. They came up short –– three times –– on Wednesday morning. Three children –– Sharell Gates, 3, Tyrell Gates, 2, and Jimmy Gates, 7 months –– identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office, were found dead in a bedroom on the second floor. A fourth sibling, Jamari Gates, 4, was rescued and taken to University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital for smoke inhalation. He remains in serious condition. “It was too late for the others. I heard them screaming, but I couldn’t get to them,” said Sharday Harper, a relative. The children, who also had a 5-year-old sister who was not in the home, were apparently home alone when the blaze broke out. Witnesses said the children’s mother stepped outside the home to check for mail and then went across the street to see about an ailing relative. She returned to find the home engulfed in smoke and flames. Hours after the blaze, the mother was questioned by Chicago police about her whereabouts before the fire broke out, according to police. Fire officials said the home had no working smoke detectors. The natural gas service to the home was shut off, and space heaters were used to provide warmth. It is unclear whether or not the heaters sparked the fire. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation. ______ Copyright 2009 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.