CHICAGO — A fire of suspicious origin engulfed an apartment house on the city's South Side today, killing at least seven people and forcing some residents to jump from windows, authorities and witnesses said.
Three of the dead were children.
At least nine people were injured, one critically. Some of those, including a woman in her sixth month of pregnancy, were injured when they leaped from the four-story, 27-apartment building, authorities said.
"We're calling it a set fire, " Fire Department spokesman Jerry Lawrence said. The blaze looked suspicious because of its burn pattern, intensity and rapid spread, he explained.
"We have taken samples from the scene . . . to determine the possible presence of flammable liquids," he said.
Firefighters fought the blaze for two hours before bringing it under control at 4 a.m.
The 22-year-old pregnant woman was in fair condition with a broken leg and foot, said Joyce Jasieniecki, nursing supervisor at South Chicago Community Hospital. Her husband, who also jumped, was treated and released.
Firefighters carried several people out of the building on stretchers and raised a ladder to rescue one woman who was leaning from a second-floor window, a neighbor said.