Chicago firefighter’s family remains in ‘extremely critical condition,’ day after 7-year-old son died in fire

A Chicago firefighter’s wife and two young children remained in "extremely critical condition" Thursday, two days after a fire ripped through their Northwest Side home and killed the firefighter’s 7-year-old son, according to the Chicago Fire Department.

"It’s a living hell he’s going through right now," said Pat Quane, spokesman for Chicago Fire Fighters Union Local 2.

Firefighter Walter Stewart is now "strung between" two hospitals, Stroger Hospital and Loyola University Medical Center, where his family is being treated, he said.

"When it involves children, it weighs heavy on our hearts," Quane said. "But when it’s someone who is a brother of yours, there’s no way to describe it."

Stewart’s son Ezra was pronounced dead Wednesday evening at Loyola, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

A small memorial for Ezra grew on the family’s front porch Thursday afternoon: Three teddy bears below of bouquet of roses with a banner reading "rest in peace."

Stewart’s wife, 34, and two daughters, 2 and 7, have been unconscious since the fire broke out Tuesday evening in the kitchen of their home in the 2500 block of North Rutherford Avenue, according to fire department spokesman Larry Langford.

Investigators have been unable to determine the cause of the fire, Langford said.

He said part of the investigation into the fire’s cause will rely on autopsy results, which the medical examiner’s office said remained inconclusive Thursday, awaiting the fire department’s report.


Walter Stewart, a firefighter-EMT with nearly 3 years experience, was working on Truck 55 at 6030 N. Avondale Ave. in Old Norwood Park when the fire broke out at his family’s home, Quane and Langford said.

Although Stewart’s truck wasn’t assigned to the fire, the call came over the intercom for the battalion chief there, who was assigned to the fire as a supervisor, they said.

Stewart, recognizing the fire was at his home, hopped in the SUV with the battalion chief and was driven to his home, where he performed CPR on his wife, Langford said.

Firefighters and a chief at Stewart’s firehouse declined to speak with a reporter Thursday.

Stewart’s wife and three children all suffered smoke inhalation and remained hospitalized in "extremely critical condition," Langford said.

The day after the fire, neighbors said the Stewart family was a quiet, blue-collar family that had moved to the block a few years ago.

The firefighter union is collecting donations for Stewart’s family at: