Preliminary reports say two children, neighbor died of smoke inhalation in Sterling fire

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STERLING, Ill. (AP) – Smoke inhalation is being given as the preliminary cause of death of three people killed in an apartment fire in northern Illinois.

Celina Serrano, 13, and her cousin, Shayla Walker, 8, of Davenport, Iowa were killed in the fire early Monday in Sterling. A neighbor, Carrie Hose, 49, was also killed in the blaze.

The mother of Celina Serrano, Alma Walker, 35, and a second daughter, Teleah Serrano, 12, are hospitalized. Walker is reported in critical condition.

Whiteside County Coroner Joe McDonald says autopsies were performed Tuesday on the victims. He says the results are preliminary because the toxicology results are pending.

Sterling police Detective Sgt. Pat Bartel said the fire began shortly after midnight Monday and spread throughout the second floor and vestibule of the two-story complex.

Officers were told that people were trapped in the building, and Sterling and Rock Falls officers as well as Whiteside County Sheriff deputies worked to rescue the 12-year-old. Nine residents of the apartment complex escaped the fire.

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