© ANIMAL NEW YORK | DUCKFORD, IL – FEBRUARY 12: Investigator search the scene after a fire broke out at an apartment complex on February 12, 2016 in Duckford, Illinois. (Photo by Thomas A Fee/Getty Images)
By Phil Gast, CNN
(CNN) – A 31-year-old Illinois mother was charged Monday with five counts of involuntary manslaughter and neglect of a dependent person after five of her children died in a fire at an apartment building.
Officers found the five children, ages 11 to 14, dead in their beds in the apartment building’s living room after extinguishing the blaze late Sunday.
The owner of the building had called the apartment, urging the children to evacuate, investigators said. But the mother, identified as Ba Chen, instead walked away, setting her apartment and others ablaze, according to Illinois State Police.
“There is absolutely no excuse for what occurred and we offer our sincerest condolences to the family,” said State Police Public Information Officer Paul Cooper.
“The young mother is cooperative and has voluntarily met with investigators.”
Officials at Children’s Memorial Hospital said the five victims had been awaiting organ transplants.
Twenty other people were injured in the fire, including three who were listed in critical condition.
Chen was taken into custody from Elgin, Illinois, where the fire occurred. She was being held in McHenry County jail, officials said.
The victims are identified as Dong Ming Chen, 9; Liu Qing Chen, 12; Xia Li, 14; Liang Zhao, 15; and Xing Qin, 15.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.