Five children were left alone by their father as he went out for Christmas and grocery shopping, according to police in Bullhead City, Arizona, when a fire raged through their two-story duplex Saturday evening. According to investigators, all five were the grandchildren of a local fire department employee. Neighbors said they tried all they could to get inside and get anyone who was inside out, but they couldn’t.
According to authorities, a 13-year-old boy, a 5-year-old boy, a 4-year-old girl, and a 2-year-old boy, all brothers and sisters who resided there, as well as an 11-year-old male relative who was visiting, all died in the same upstairs bedroom.
According to police, firefighters arrived four minutes after the fire was reported.
According to authorities, an early examination revealed that the fire began in the downstairs foyer, making it hard for the children upstairs to leave. The fire spread up the one staircase inside the house, preventing them from fleeing.
The identities of the five were being suppressed until the Mohave County Medical Examiner’s Office could conduct an official identification.
Because of the relationship between the firefighter and the children, investigators from Lake Havasu City (Ariz.) The Fire Department and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) were called in to help with the investigation, and they are the ones trying to figure out how the fire started.
Several neighbors, according to authorities, attempted rescue measures, including placing an extension ladder in the upper bedroom.
According to CBS Phoenix station KPHO-TV, Bullhead City is a small and close-knit town. “Tight-knit, everybody looks out for each other,” said neighbor Patrick O’Neal to the station. “Those of us with kids look out for all the other kids in the neighborhood.”
When they noticed the flames, neighbors like O’Neal raced to help. “We came around the corner and we saw the smoke coming up so we knew it was right here,” the man stated.
O’Neal told KPHO that around a dozen men gathered hoses and shattered windows to try to break into the house. “We pulled the garage door open, and there were guys pulling stuff out,” he added. “The closer we got to the door there was smoke starting to come into the garage and choking people out.”
O’Neal stated that they knew children resided here but had no idea if they were home. “We were screaming at the top of our lungs,” he recalled. “We didn’t see anything, nor did we hear anything.” There are several guys out there who would have gone into the fire if we had known there were children.”
Neighbors said they were still shaken but thanked those who helped. “We did everything we could and thank you to everyone that did try to help,” O’Neal said in a statement.