Chicago firefighter’s two other children die after Montclare house fire that killed wife, son

CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago firefighter’s two remaining children have died, after a house fire earlier this week also killed his wife and 7-year-old son.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed 2-year-old Emory Day-Stewart and 9-year-old Autumn Day-Stewart died Friday night. 

Their mother, 36-year-old Summer Day-Stewart, died on Thursday, and their 7-year-old brother, Ezra Stewart, was pronounced dead on Wednesday evening.

Summer Day-Stewart
Summer Day-Stewart, 36, died days after in a house fire in the Montclare neighborhood. Her three children also died in the fire. Day-Stewart’s husband, an active Chicago firefighter, performed CPR on his wife after he rushed to the scene, after learning about the fire. Photo supplied to CBS

Their father, firefighter Walter Stewart, was on duty at the time of the fire, and rushed home, where he performed CPR on his wife after she was pulled out of the home.

Earlier this week, the Fire Department said all four members of the family suffered from smoke inhalation, but autopsy results are not yet complete.

The fire broke out Tuesday night in a house at 2554 N. Rutherford Ave., right off Wrightwood Avenue.

Video from a neighbor’s Ring camera shows the chaos as firefighters arrived on scene. There was a massive presence as fire trucks lined North Rutherford Avenue.

The video shows what looks like a stretcher being wheeled up to the lawn in a frantic attempt to save the family.

Chicago Fire Department officials have said Walter Stewart, who lived in the house, responded himself – and gave his own wife CPR. He was not part of the fire crew that responded to the fire, but when he heard the address of the fire over radio dispatch, he went to the scene.

We are told he is also an EMT – and joined the Fire Department within the past few years.

Tributes poured in Saturday as word spread about the loss.

Neighbors brought their prayers and flowers to a quiet corner of the Montclare, walking up to the family’s home in total silence.

Some know the victims, others just wanted to show their support, hoping it reaches the remaining member of a family devastated by the fire that broke out Tuesday night; a fireman who came here when he heard the call with his family address.

Among the balloons, stuffed animals, and flowers in a growing memorial outside the home was a message to those who come by, soliciting donations for the Stewart family, explaining “Fireman Stewart needs your prayer.”

That’s what 21-year-old Yasmine Corral came to do.

“Honestly, it has been tough. We didn’t know them personally, but just living on the same street, and, you know, I have a lot of younger sisters, and my dad’s always out at work,” Corral said, choking back emotion as she thought of the connections between the Stewart family and her own.

When Corral and her family arrived at the Stewart house on Saturday, they didn’t know that Emory and Autumn had died.

“Honestly, I don’t even know what to say to that. I feel like just saying I’m sorry for your loss isn’t enough. I can’t imagine what he’s going through. I know it’s not easy,” she said.

Corral said she hopes the memorial will show Walter Stewart that he’s not alone; a community is hoping to help him.

“Everyone’s worried, and praying, and wishing him kind of like a sense of peace,” she said.

Among those stopping by was at least one staff member from nearby Josephine Locke Elementary, where one of the kids was a student. The school is now offering counseling services to students and staff.

The Chicago Fire Fighters Union Local 2 issued a statement in support of the Stewart family:

“Every member of Local 2 and the Department mourns with our brother Walter and the Stewart family. This tragedy weighs heavy on our hearts, and we pledge our ongoing support,” said Jim Tracy President of Local 2. “Local 2 is encouraging everyone to make a donation for Walter and the Stewart family through the “Ignite The Spirit Chicago.”

Those who want to donate can do so by visiting the Ignite the Spirit Chicago website

Firefighters handed out smoke detectors and fire prevention materials in the neighborhood on Friday, a common practice for the Fire Department after fatal fires. The Stewart family’s home did have smoke detectors. 

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. A Fire Department spokesman said they’re working with the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office to try to make that determination.