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5 children die in South Bend house fire, officials say


SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – The South Bend Fire department says five children died in a violent house fire on Sunday evening on South Bend’s west side.

Crews were called around 6:30 p.m. to the 200 block of N. LaPorte Avenue, which is about a block from the Oliver Mansion, for a structure fire. When they arrived, they were met with intense flames engulfing the first and second floors of the home.

Officials say six people were taken out of the home. Five of them were children, who were all later pronounced dead. One survivor was taken to Memorial Hospital and later airlifted to a specialized pediatric burn center in Indianapolis for further treatment.

“As we mourn the lives lost, we also extend our deepest sympathies to the families affected by this tragedy,” said Gerard Ellis, assistant chief of fire prevention for the South Bend Fire Department, in a press release sent to 16 News Now on Monday morning.

Meanwhile, officials say a South Bend firefighter fell through the second floor onto the first floor. He was taken to the hospital but is now recovering at home and is expected to recover and return to work in the near future.

Crews battle back flames as they relight at the top of a house in South Bend on Sunday, Jan....
Crews battle back flames as they relight at the top of a house in South Bend on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024.(WNDU)

As the South Bend Fire Department mourns the young lives lost in the fire, Ellis is recognizing the heroic efforts of the city’s firefighters — especially those from Engine 2, which was the first company on scene.

“While this incident casts a shadow of sorrow over our community, particularly due to the loss of young lives, it is also a poignant reminder of the courage and dedication displayed by the members of the South Bend Fire Department,” Ellis said. “The firefighters of Engine 2, in their unyielding commitment to protect and serve, exhibited a profound disregard for their own safety in the face of extreme danger. Their actions reflect the highest ideals of selflessness and a citizens-first ethos, characteristics emblematic of the bravery inherent in our city’s first responders.”

It took crews around three hours to put out the blaze, with part of the roof being burned out with at least 10-foot flames. In total, five engines, multiple ambulances, and dozens of firefighters responded to the fire.

With the fire taking place in a residential area, crews on scene worked to make sure other residential buildings in the area would not be affected by the fire.

“You take those things into account,” said South Bend Fire Chief Carl Buchanon. “Whenever you get a house fire of this sort, you want to make sure you are containing it to the best of your ability. To just that one unit, so that the other units, can by some time and make sure residents in those closer units have an opportunity to get out. Just in case it does extend.”

The South Bend Fire Department says it is working closely with local and state authorities to investigate the cause of the fire.

As officials look into the cause, Chief Buchanon is reminding you to test your smoke alarms. For more information on the city’s free smoke alarm program, click here.

Stay up to date on local news with WNDU on-air and online. Be sure to download the 16 News Now App and follow our YouTube page as we continue to bring you the latest coverage on this developing story.



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