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Child Dies In Altgeld Gardens Fire; 'It's Something You Never Prepare For'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Five kids were left home alone, and then that home catches fire.

A six-year-old boy was killed in the blaze. CBS 2's Jeremy Ross reports from Altgeld Gardens and spoke to a neighbor who ran into the burning home. She was shaken by what she saw.

The medical examiner's officer confirmed six-year-old Ron Johnson died in the fire. On Wednesday night, he was on the second floor of a home in Altgeld Gardens.

Will Connors knows the family who lost the six-year-old in the fatal fire.

"Yeah it's something you just never prepare for," he said. "It was a sad day for everybody. It was just terrible."

Another neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said one of five kids inside ran to her as the fire broke out, a 13-year-old desperate for help.

"I've been crying all day. He was yelling, saying his brother was upstairs," said the neighbor. "I couldn't get upstairs to get him because it too much smoke. It was extremely dark."

She added that CPD officers tried to help but couldn't.

"Eight police tried to get up. They got halfway up. They couldn't get him either," said the neighbor, who added the surviving brother tried all he could and is very upset about losing his brother.

"I brought the kids over here. The brother is traumatized. He feels bad, but I told him it's not his fault," said the neighbor.

Firefighters said the blaze started on a mattress in a second floor bedroom. Among the things investigators are looking into is whether a child was playing with matches or another type of fire source, adding it's possible the six-year-old's developmental disorder may have played a role in him not getting to safety.

"He has autism," said the neighbor.

The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) said it has had previous contact with the family and the agency is investigating a case. Connors described a caring mother, now in a state of crisis.

"She wasn't a bad person you know," said Connors. "She's just going though tragedy right now."

Firefighters said they arrived there in about four minutes. CFD and DCFS said it will continue to investigate.

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