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Three children killed in early morning Chicago house fire

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Three children were killed in a fire in a crowded Chicago house early on Thursday morning, officials said.

The two boys and one girl were identified as Stacey Austin, 9, Joseph Austin, 4, and Dashiyah Austin, 2, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

The fire started at 2:13 A.M. in the two-and-a-half story frame building, according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Richard Rosado.

Local media reports said one of the children had been playing with a lighter, but Rosado said the fire is still being investigated and he could not confirm this.

As many as 17 people were in the house at the time of the fire, according to Rosado. The fire was mostly in the first-floor rear of the building, and took an hour to put out, Rosado said.

(Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Jerry Norton)