"I can't even think of what it feels like," Fire department spokesperson Larry Langford said.
A Chicago firefighter is grieving following a fire at his Montclare residence that claimed four of his family members' lives. The firefighter Walter Stewart's wife, Summer Day-Stewart, 36, passed away on Thursday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m., PEOPLE reported. Their 2-year-old boy Emory Day-Stewart and 9-year-old daughter Autumn Day-Stewart also passed away from smoke inhalation-related injuries, per ABC.
The fire started in their house late at night on March 7 while the firefighter was at work. Speaking with the Chicago Tribune, fire department spokesperson Larry Langford said the department is "doing all we can to support him. It's just unbelievable." He added, "I can't even think of what it feels like."
The firefighter's 7-year-old son, Ezra Stewart, passed away on Wednesday. All four members of the family suffered extreme injuries from prolonged periods of smoke inhalation, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
According to a statement from the Chicago Police Department, the fire started Tuesday night in the 2500 block of North Rutherford Avenue just after 9:00 p.m. Walter Stewart, a firefighter-EMT with nearly three years of experience, was working in Old Norwood Park when the fire started at his family's house. Stewart's truck was not assigned to the fire, but the battalion chief there, who was assigned to the fire as a supervisor, received a call over the intercom.
Fire department spokesman Larry Langford shared that Stewart recognized the fire was at his house and jumped in the SUV with the battalion chief to be driven there, where he gave his wife CPR. The mother and her three kids were then "transported to various hospitals in critical condition" after having all "suffered smoke inhalation," according to police at the time.
The family has also received a commitment from the Chicago Fire Fighters Union Local 2, which is raising money for them. The fundraiser reads, "The Stewart Family is facing an unspeakable tragedy," adding details about the fire. The fundraiser shares, "Tragically, Walter lost his Wife and three children. Please keep the Stewart Family in your thoughts and prayers. 100% of the donations collected go directly to the Stewart Family."
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, the union president Jim Tracy said, "Every member of Local 2 and the Department mourns with our brother Walter and the Stewart family. This tragedy weighs heavy on our hearts."
The investigation into the fire, the cause of which is still unknown, was put on hold on Friday. Langford also suggested that it's conceivable that investigators will conduct a forensic analysis in the future. A spokesperson for the fire department earlier told PEOPLE that early findings suggested that the fire started in the kitchen.
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