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11th Mar 2023

Firefighter forced to perform CPR on his wife after being called to blaze at his own home

Steve Hopkins

‘How do you come back from that?’

A firefighter was faced with the devastating task of performing CPR on his wife after being called to a blaze at his own home in Chicago this week.

Walter Stewart rushed to his home Tuesday night after hearing the address on North Rutherford Avenue come over the scanner while he was on duty.

His wife, Summer Day-Stewart, 36, died two days later from injuries she sustained in the fire. The couple’s seven-year-old son, Ezra, passed away a day earlier.

The couple’s two other children, a two-year-old boy and a seven-year-old girl, were critically injured in the fire that broke out around 9pm, and are suffering from severe smoke inhalation. They are yet to regain consciousness and “it’s not optimistic” that either will survive, relative, Sarah Day, told ABC 7 Chicago.

Walter’s truck was not assigned to the fire when the department was first alerted, but he raced to the scene in an SUV when he realised it was his address.

Larry Langford, a spokesperson for the Chicago Fire Department, confirmed Stewart performed CPR on his wife at the scene.

The cause of the fire is yet to be determined.

Summer’s sister-in-law, Amber Day, described the family’s devastation to ABC 7 Chicago, saying: “How do you come back from that?

“How do you recover from that? How do you go on knowing that that was your life? That was it?”

Remembering Summer, Sarah said she “lived up to her name” and was the “sunshine to everybody”.

“Everywhere she went, she meant something to everybody. She was just that kind of person. She was so unique,” she said.

A Chicago Fire Department charity called Ignite The Spirit has launched a fundraiser to support Stewart and his family.

It reads: “The Stewart Family is facing an unspeakable tragedy. Walter Stewart, a Chicago Firefighter, was on duty at the firehouse when he overheard his home address on the fire radio, indicating that an active fire was raging.

“When he arrived on the scene he found his house in flames and his wife and children in grave condition. Please keep the Stewart Family in your thoughts and prayers. 100% of the donations collected go directly to the Stewart Family.”

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