Three Killed in Nebraska Fire Started by Child

BELLEVUE, Neb. --

A Bellevue apartment fire claimed the lives of three people, including two children, and was apparently started by a child playing with a lighter, authorities said.

The blaze is considered a criminal investigation police said.

Six people were inside an apartment. Police said the call for help was received at about 10 a.m. and two officers and an arson investigator went to the Southgate Townhomes. Capt. Herb Evers of the Bellevue Police Department said there was so much smoke and heat that the crew could not get in, and they called for backup.

Police said one person was found dead inside the apartment. Two children -- one an infant -- were taken to a hospital, where they died.

Evers said the first officers on the scene tried to get into the building, but couldn't because of intense smoke and heat. Evers said those people are in a bad emotional state.

"They have kids. They were unable to save the lives of some infants. It's very emotional for them," Evers said.

A 17-year-old baby sitter may be among the dead. Numerous witnesses have said the teen was inside the home, but police have not confirmed that. Two women who claimed to be related to the teen said she was an aunt to some of the children in her care.

A witness said she saw two young boys from the apartment get out. One of the children told the witness he was lighting things on fire.

Police are interviewing three children about what happened. Police said those three children escaped the blaze. Cacilia Carmona said her baby was saved from the fire, and through tears, she thanked whomever got the child to safety. Carmona said she lives next door to the apartment that burned.

Dana Cox said she was taking her children to day care when a friend of hers who lives at 2846 Kansas Drive called and said her home was filling with smoke. There have been no official reports of other damage to the building.

The Red Cross is at the scene helping neighbors and firefighters cope with the heat.

KETV.com will livestream a 3 p.m. news conference.

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