The chaotic scene happened on Aug. 20, 2023, at 1:08 a.m., at Champan Homes, a city-owned housing community on Lincoln Street Southwest near Harold Goodman Circle Southwest.
The two who died at the scene were an 11-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy; officials say the parents were at the hospital with the third kid — a 16-year-old girl — who was in critical condition until she died during the evening hours.
One frantic call from what sounded like a child gave more insight as the situation unfolded, as you could hear the family next door to the home getting out.
Caller: “There’s a fire next door! There’s a fire next door!”
Dispatcher: “It’s a house fire?”
Caller: “It’s an apartment fire. I don’t know. I don’t know. *Inaduable*.”
Dispatcher: “Do you see flames?”
Caller: “Yes, there’s a lot of flames.”
What isn’t heard in the calls are alarms in the background, fueling suspicion that smoke detectors weren’t functioning in the public housing unit.
“I tried going in, but the smoke was too deep, thick, and like it’s spreading bad. Like this is gonna be something big,” said Cristian Gray. “I couldn’t really get in there. Not that I know of nobody in there, but the doors are open like somebody lives here, and there’s stuff in there, so like people live here, but I don’t nobody’s responding right now.”
An incident report revealed the fire started in the bedroom and involved fabric. Investigators are still working to learn the cause of the incident.