Five children were killed in a house fire in South Bend, Indiana last week in what the mayor described as a “horrific tragedy,” ABC News reported.
Fire crews responded to a residential fire on North LaPorte Ave. at about 6:15 p.m. on Sunday, January 21. When firefighters arrived at the scene, the two-story home was already engulfed in flames.
According to the South Bend Fire Department, firefighters found several children who became trapped on the second floor.
Six children were rescued from the building but only one survived.
The victims ranged in age from 17 months to 11 years old. The surviving child, an 11-year-old, was rushed to a nearby hospital and later airlifted to a pediatric burn unit in Indianapolis.
One adult was also in the house at the time but was able to escape with only minor injuries.
As the rescue efforts were underway, one firefighter fell through the second floor and was injured. According to South Bend Fire officials, the firefighter was treated at a local hospital before being released and was expected to fully recover.
During a press conference last Monday, officials said the cause and origin of the fire had not yet been determined. However, the fire’s quick spread was caused by harsh weather conditions and wind. Firefighters battled the flames for around three hours before the fire was contained.
South Bend Mayor James Mueller told reporters that the deadly fire was a “horrific tragedy” for the community.
According to Fire Chief Carl Buchanon, the adult at home when the fire began made attempts to rescue the children and gave responding firefighters details on where the children were located inside the house.
Buchanon told reporters that last Sunday’s fire was the deadliest house fire in his time as Chief.
In a statement, the South Bend Fire Department lauded the efforts of the crew of Engine 2 for their “unyielding commitment to protect and serve.” The department said the firefighters placed their safety at risk “in the face of extreme danger,” reflecting the “highest ideals of selflessness” and “the bravery inherent” in South Bend’s first responders.