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Wife of Chicago firefighter dies days after he responded to fire at their home

“It’s gotta be like hell,” said Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford. “We’re doing all we can to support [Walter Stewart],” who also lost his son


The memorial at the home of Chicago Firefighter Walter Stewart and Summer Day-Stewart has been growing. She passed away Thursday night. The couple’s son also died after a fire occurred at their home. Their remaining two children are hospitalized.

Photo/Antonio Perez/Tribune News Service

By Jake Sheridan
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — The wife of a Chicago Fire Department firefighter died Thursday night, two days after the firefighter responded to a fire in his own home and tried to save her with CPR in front of the family’s Montclare house Tuesday night.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office confirmed Friday that Summer Day-Stewart, 36, had died. Her son, 7-year-old Ezra Stewart, died Wednesday night. The couple’s two other children, a 2-year-old girl and a 7-year-old girl, were last listed in critical condition.

The firefighter, Walter Stewart, heard his own address as the location of the blaze Tuesday night. A Chicago Fire Department chief drove him from a fire station 5 miles away. First responders found Day-Stewart and the three kids unconscious from smoke inhalation and in grave condition.

Outside his burning home, the young firefighter performed CPR on his now-dead wife, Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford said.

“It’s gotta be like hell,” Langford said. “We’re doing all we can to support him.”

There were no new updates on the condition of Stewart’s two other children, Langford said Friday.

The investigation into the fire, which officials believe began in the kitchen, was undetermined and suspended Friday, though it remained possible that investigators would do a forensic analysis of artifacts from the fire, Langford said.

The veteran fire spokesperson said he had never seen anything like this nightmare scenario during his many years with the department. Firefighters’ homes have caught on fire, he said. Even fire stations have caught fire, he added.

But Langford said he couldn’t remember the department facing a tragedy like this.

“As long as I’ve been associated with fires, I can’t fathom what he’s going through. It’s just unbelievable. I can’t even think of what it feels like,” he said.

The department is raising money to help Stewart’s family face the “unspeakable tragedy” through its charity, Ignite the Spirit.

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