Firefighters use a tarp to block the view of a body being removed from a home in Gary, Ind., Wednesday Sept. 21, 2005. Bars on the windows may have kept victims from escaping a house fire that killed three children and two adults early today in Gary, Indiana. A fire department inspector says nine people were inside the house, and two are hospitalized in serious condition. The cause has not been determined.
Photo credit: AP Photo/The Post-Tribune, Stephanie Dowell
GARY, Ind. (AP) -- Fire gutted a small house early Wednesday, killing four children and two adults, as intense heat drove back relatives and neighbors who tried to break windows to get them out, authorities said.
Two adults and three children ages 1 to 12 were pronounced dead of burns and smoke inhalation shortly after the blaze. An 11-year-old boy died Wednesday afternoon at a hospital.
A 7-year-old boy and an adult female remained hospitalized.
Neighbor Michael Dukes said he ran across the street to the burning house after hearing a woman screaming about 3 a.m. He pulled a young boy from the home's living room, where flames were rolling up the ceiling from a couch.
The cause of the fire was not immediately determined.
Initial rescue attempts were hampered by burglar bars on the home's windows, and the smoke detector that firefighters found did not have a battery.
Laura Smith, 37, was dead at the scene. Kenneth Andrews, 35, and the couple's 1-year-old son, Malik Smith, as well as Andrews' sons, Darriontae Andrews, 9, and Andre Andrews, 12, died at a local hospital shortly after the fire.
The 11-year-old boy, who officials said was also related to Kenneth Andrews, died at the University of Chicago Hospital. The 7-year-old boy was in critical condition, spokeswoman Kristin O'Neill said.
State Fire Marshal Roger Johnson said that even though the window bars could have blocked an escape route, the smoke inside would have ''rendered the victims helpless.''