Boy, Aunt Die In Massive Wis. House Fire

MILWAUKEE -- Two people are dead and three children severely hurt after a massive fire on Milwaukee's south side. Neighbors described a terrifying scene near 15th and Washington streets at about 2 a.m...


MILWAUKEE --

Two people are dead and three children severely hurt after a massive fire on Milwaukee's south side.

Neighbors described a terrifying scene near 15th and Washington streets at about 2 a.m. Wednesday.

Neighbor Alexander Rodriguez, 12, saw the flames from his window.

"When I was sleeping, all I heard was, 'My baby,' and then my mom woke me up," Rodriguez said.

There were four children in the home. A 10-year-old boy died. His aunt, 20, also perished. Police pulled the woman's 2- year-old daughter, badly burned, from the flames. Two young boys escaped.

"I looked through the window. They broke the window so the kid could come out because there was a kid in the room that was like stuck," Rodriguez said.

Firefighters are frustrated because they said the woman trapped in the burning home called a friend who was driving around for help. Milwaukee Fire Chief Mark Rohlfing said she should have dialed 911 first.

"We made a very aggressive attack. The heat and the intensity of the fire pushed our firefighters out," Rohlfing said.

Shaun Slack knew the victims. The mother who died was his sister's best friend.

"As soon as I found out the fire was here I thought it was my sister, so I freaked out pretty bad," Slack said.

Slack was around to help his sister move out of her rented home next door to the fire.

"One of the kids woke up and came to the house, I guess, at 2 or 3 a.m., and that's how she woke up," Slack said.

At last report, Milwaukee's fire chief said the 2-year-old girl pulled from the flames was in critical condition, and the other two kids were also hurt.

The fire chief said early indications are the fire was accidental, but they are still investigating.

Firefighters said there were no working smoke detectors in the home.

Mayor Addresses Fire Safety

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett urged all city residents to make sure they're taking the necessary steps to stay safe during fires.

He said what happened overnight is a tragic reminder of what can happen if you don't.

"Sadly, this home did not have a smoke detector. And it's my understanding chief, and correct me if I'm wrong, that our Milwaukee Fire Department did try to reach out to this home in July, and there was no response. I'm not saying anybody did anything bad," Barrett said.

The mayor also said he wanted people to know the Fire Department is available to check smoke detectors and help get them placed inside homes.

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