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Latino State News

3-year-old Dies in Pilsen Fire

A three-year-old boy is dead after an apartment building fire in Pilsen that also injured his one-year-old sister, his father, and the family’s two dogs.

Saturday, the fire broke out in the four-story building at around 4:20pm on the 1700 block of West Cullerton Street. The fire’s billowing smoke could be seen a mile away as it tore through the building’s upper floors and spread to a coach house in the rear. Firefighters brought the fire under control an hour later.

Fire Department District Chief Thomas Kennedy said that while firefighters were still battling the flames, they found Michael Cruz, 3, in the back bedroom of the second floor. He was pronounced dead at St. Anthony Hospital a short time later.

The boy’s father and younger sister were treated for smoke inhalation and burns and were hospitalized in serious-to-critical condition.

Several families, all related, occupied the building. Total, 12 children lived on the property.

While the family mourns the child’s death and the loss of their home, American Red Cross officials say the family will be put in temporary shelter, and be provided food and clothing.

It is unclear whether the building had functioning smoke detectors, and while the fire is still under investigation Jose Lopez, the boy’s uncle, said it was caused by a space heater in his brother’s second-floor apartment.