TELL CITY, Ind. (AP) — Three young siblings were killed and their mother was hospitalized after she tried to save them from a house fire early Friday in a small southern Indiana city, officials said.
Tell City Fire Chief Greg Linne said fire crews and police officers also tried to enter the burning two-story home, but were driven back by flames. Firefighters arrived to find “fire shooting from almost every window on the ground floor,” he said.
Eleven-year-old Danielle Plock Sims, 6-year-old Thomas Plock Sims and 3-year-old Roseanna Plock Sims died in the fire, officials said.
The children’s mother, Selina Applegate, had tried unsuccessfully to get the siblings out of the home. She and two other children escaped the blaze with non-life-threatening injuries, and one of the children called 911 about 3:25 a.m. CST.
“I’m not sure how she escaped. We do understand there were efforts made by her to reach her children,” Tell City Police Chief Derrick Lawalin said of Applegate, who was hospitalized in fair condition.
The Indiana State Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire in the Ohio River city about 70 miles (110 kilometers) southwest of Louisville, Kentucky.
Hours after the fire, a small memorial that included an angel and a teddy bear had been erected next to a tree outside the fire-gutted house.
“Last night the community lost three wonderful children, full of potential. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family in this trying time,” Tell City-Troy Township Schools said in a statement. It said counselors and social workers were available for anyone affected by the fire that occurred just three blocks from Tell City Junior Senior High School.
Tell City Mayor Jim Adams called on the community of about 7,300 to support the family during the tragedy, coming only days after Christmas.
“This is supposed to be a joyous time,” he said. “I want to let everybody know we, as a city, we want to just wrap our arms around these family members because we want them to know they’re not alone.”