CHICAGO (Reuters) - An early morning fire roared through a suburban Chicago apartment building on Sunday, killing six people, three of them children, and injuring 12 other people, authorities said.
The fire erupted before 4 a.m. in a first-floor apartment, and the building corridors "acted as a chimney" funneling the flames through the structure and trapping residents on the upper floors, said Dan Ferrelli, a spokesman for the city of Aurora, located about 40 miles west of Chicago.
Firefighters battled the blaze for an hour before extinguishing it, and local, state, and federal officials were investigating the cause.
"There are common, open staircases in both the front and rear of the building that acted as a chimney which trapped the occupants of the second and third floors," Ferrelli said.
Among the dead was a 9-year-old boy who died at the scene. A boy believed to be between 5 and 7 years old and an 8-month-old infant died en route to a hospital, Ferrelli said.
A 20-year-old man also died while being transported to a hospital, and two women, both between 30 and 40 years old, died at the scene.
Only two people of the 12 victims who received hospital treatment have been released, Ferrelli said.
The building was home to at least 35 people who lived in 12 units, Ferrelli said. Damage from the fire left the building uninhabitable.
(Reporting by Eric Johnson; Editing by James Kelleher and Ellen Wulfhorst)