Five children died in a South Bend, Indiana, house fire Sunday and a sixth was flown to a pediatric burn center, after what the city’s fire chief called a devastating blaze.
Six children in all between the ages of 17 months and 11 years, were rescued from the home, but five of them died, South Bend Fire Chief Carl R. Buchanon said. said.
The 11-year-old survived and was taken to a hospital and then flown to a pediatric burn center in Indianapolis for further treatment, he said.
Responding firefighters found “intense flames engulfing both the first and second floors of the structure” on La Porte Avenue in the fire that was reported around 6:30 p.m., Buchanon said.
“This incident last night was a horrific tragedy in our community,” Mayor James Mueller said at a news conference Monday.
A firefighter was also injured after falling through the floor of the second story to the first while fighting the fire, Buchanon said. He was taken to a hospital and is recovering at home.
The cause and point of origin of the fire is under investigation. The state fire marshal’s office is assisting.
An adult was present and made “a valiant attempt” at trying to rescue the children, Buchanon said.
“The heavy smoke and heavy fire was overcoming him,” Buchanon said. The man was able to tell firefighters who was still inside and where, he said.
Officials offered their prayers and condolences to the family, and said the tragedy was affecting the whole community.
“We know how hard it is to lose anyone, because we do everything in our power to avoid it — but it even hurts even more so when it’s someone who has just begun their time on this earth,” Buchanon said.