3 kids hurt in Auburn Gresham fire, saved by Vietnam vet - New York News

3 kids hurt in Auburn Gresham fire, saved by Vietnam vet

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

FOX 32 News has learned that a young girl's parents will not face criminal charges after the 4-year-old was seriously hurt by a mattress fire. That girl is now fighting for life at Comer Children's Hospital.

A fire broke out in the 1000 Block of West 76th Street in a second-floor unit around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

At the time of the accident the children's mother was at school and the father had run to the grocery store. The 4-year-old severely burned in the fire and her 10-year-old brother were both left in the care of their 16-year-old sister. At the time, she had ear buds on to listen to music while doing her homework in another room.

Neighbors told FOX 32 News that the boy may have been playing with matches – this is unconfirmed by the Chicago Fire Dept. – when the 4-year-old's mattress caught fire, as well as her clothes. When he realized he couldn't help her, the boy ran for help.

He and his teen sister were also burned trying to help their youngest sibling. When they couldn't get her out, they ran to neighbors for help screaming, " My sister's on fire!"

Clyde Harden, a medic in the Vietnam War and disabled veteran, came into the room and encountered a terrible scene.

"I was downstairs and the boy ran downstairs and said my sister's on fire. I thought he was just playing. But sure enough, I ran upstairs, just out of curiosity," Harden said. "I saw the bed was on fire and the little girl was in it, so I started grabbing sheets, blankets, and blotting it out. Once I got the fire out of the way and off her, I grabbed her."

Another neighbor, Craig Wilson, filled up a pot with water and doused the flaming mattress. Paramedics arrived about five minutes later.

"The baby was on fire, so I grabbed her and kind of held her away from me because her skin was peeling. She was crying, she put her head on my shoulder," Harden said. "She was in shock. It was scary because the burns were so severe."

"My friend downstairs, her boyfriend ran up and grabbed the blankets and threw it around," another neighbor said. "Her skin was falling off her. It was horrible."

That neighbor's daughter is friends with the little girl. She said her daughter kept waking up Wednesday night with nightmares, saying "My friend's on fire, my friend's on fire!"

Harden's 6-year-old son, Shannon, said he missed the little girl and hopes she's okay. "She's my best friend," he said, displaying a picture of the girl holding blue flowers that he drew after the incident.

The 4-year-old is currently fighting for her life at University of Chicago's Comer Children's Hospital. She is in critical condition, suffering from burns to 40 about percent of her body.

As of noon Thursday, investigators said the Auburn Gresham mattress fire is really just a tragic accident.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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