Girl: 'My sister's on fire'

3 children were injured, 1 critically after a fire started inside their apartment. (WGN - Chicago)

Hearing screams in the hallway, Vanessa King stepped out of her apartment to see her neighbor rushing down the stairs while cradling a little girl crying from burns over half her body.

"He put a blanket around her. He was holding her. He was telling her it was going to be OK," King said.

The neighbor, Clyde Harden, carried the 4-year-old girl into an ambulance that took her to Comer Children's Hospital, where she remained in critical condition today.

The girl was with her 9-year-old brother and 16-year-old sister when her bunk bed caught fire around 7:15 p.m. Wednesday in a four-flat in the 1000 block of West 76th Street, officials said.

The 16-year-old was in a back bedroom doing her homework when the boy ran to her room, neighbors said. "He ran back there to tell her [their sister] was on fire," said Sandra Gray, who lives downstairs. "She came downstairs and was knocking on everyone's door. She was screaming, 'My sister's on fire.' "

Gray said she and her husband and a neighbor ran up and saw the bottom bunk bed on fire. "All I saw was that the bed was on fire and the baby was burned," Gray said. "You could see the bed on fire."

She said the 16-year-old tried to pull the little girl from the bed and burned her hands. Gray's husband and the neighbor finally put the fire out as firefighters and paramedics arrived, she said. Gray said the girl was conscious but badly burned.

Harden, who rushed up with Gray, said he grabbed hold of the girl and helped put out the fire. “I believe that she was sheltered by God already,” he told reporters on the scene. “Somebody was there for her.”

Though an official cause has not been determined, authorities are looking into the possibility that someone inside the home had been playing with a lighter or matches, according to Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford.

King said she was struggling with how to talk to her 5-year-old daughter about her friend’s injury, saying her girl had nightmares through the night.

King said her daughter told her that "my friend needs to get her skin back. The doctor is going to take care and God is going to take care of her."

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