KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) — Three children died Saturday after a morning house fire in Miami County, near Kokomo.
Crews responded to a home in the 13000 block of South County Road 300 East around 10:48 a.m. Saturday, Indiana State Police said.
Laura Gingerich, 27, called 911 and said there was heavy smoke in the house and that her three children were trapped inside.
Fire crews arrived and recovered 6-year-old Miracle Gingerich, 5-year-old Steven Gingerich and 1-year-old Wilma Gingerich in a second-floor room that contained heavy smoke. All three children were unconscious and not breathing, ISP said.
Officers, firefighters and paramedics started life-saving measures. Miracle was taken to a Kokomo hospital, while Steven and Wilma were taken to a Peru hospital. All three children died at the hospital, Slocum said.
The children’s mother was the only adult home when the fire happened. Her parents also live at the home, Slocum said.
According to state police, early evidence indicates Laura Gingerich was in a downstairs bathroom while the children were in the second-floor room. She smelled smoke and tried to get to her children but the smoke was too thick for her to make it up the stairs. Then she called 911, according to ISP.
Two close friends of the family, Melody Tolliver and Phyllis Smith, said the children were great kids with loving spirits and Laura was an amazing mother.
“She loved them kids with all her heart and soul. She was a good mother. She was a very, very good mother. She would do anything for them babies. She has done everything,” they said.
The cause of the fire on Saturday had not yet been determined. Autopsies will be completed as part of the investigation, Slocum said.
Fire agencies from Amboy, Converse, Galveston and Pipe Creek responded to the fire. The investigation of the fire will be handled by the Miami County Sheriff’s Office along with the Indiana Fire Marshal’s Office.
Crews were called back out to the house around 4 a.m. Sunday as the fire had rekindled, Slocum said. Additionally, police said the house is in the process of being demolished.
Maconaquah Schools on Saturday said its students and staff were “devastated by the loss of the Gingerich children.” Miracle and Steven both went to Pipe Creek Elementary School.
Building principals are available by email and phone this weekend to help parents and students, the district said. And counselors will be available for all students on Monday and will continue to be available for staff and students throughout the week, the district said in a social media post:
To our community,
It is with deep sorrow that Maconaquah School Corporation acknowledges the passing of two Pipe Creek students, Miracle and Steven Gingerich, as well as their one year old sister, Wilma, all who tragically passed away today, February 27 in a house fire.
Our students and staff are devastated by the loss of the Gingerich children. Both Miracle and Steven had contagious smiles and a bubbly energy that will be sorrowfully missed by their teachers and many friends.
“My heart and the hearts of Pipe Creek and Maconaquah staff are absolutely broken over this devastating loss. We send our deepest thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the Gingerich children,” says Pipe Creek Principal, Laura Fulton.
We have sent an email to the parents of students who were in class with both Miracle and Steven. We encourage parents to talk with their students about the loss of their classmate as this will allow them to grieve with their family and the loved ones closest to them. Counselors will be available for all students on Monday, March 1, and they will continue to be available for students and staff throughout the entire week.
Building principals will be available by phone and email throughout this weekend as a source to help guide students and parents through this tragic event.
We apologize for this notification being delayed. We felt it was best to be certain all family was contacted first, and to allow the State Police to release their statement prior to us contacting our patrons.Maconaquah School Corporation
On Sunday afternoon, the district announced a fund would be created to benefit the family and explained how people can donate.
“The event that took place this weekend was absolutely heartbreaking for all of those who knew the Gingerich family. It is travesties such as this that really make you lean on your community, and the love and compassion that has been poured over our Maconaquah family and the family and friends of Steven and Miracle has been incredible. We truly appreciate all of the support as we work to find healing for students and staff who have been affected by this loss. This week, counselors within our corporation will be on campus at Pipe Creek Elementary school as a resource to help walk students and staff through the grieving process. Counselors will be available to meet with students one on one if needed, and will also circulate through classrooms to relieve individuals who might need to process this weekend’s events away from a group setting. We encourage parents to reach out to our administrators and counseling staff with any questions, concerns, or guidance on how we might best help your child cope. At this time, we feel it is very important to give the immediate family time and space to grieve. We have reached out to extended family and are working closely with them to determine how our corporation and community can best help those involved. At this time, we have established a fund for the family of Miracle, Steven, and Wilma, and any person interested in contributing can drop off donations to the Maconaquah Administration Building at 7932 South Strawtown Pike, Bunker Hill, IN 46914. Checks can be made out to Maconaquah School Corporation. We also ask that any questions related to donations be directed to our corporate office at 765-689-9131 ext. 1100.We sincerely thank each and every one of you for the outpouring of kindness and generosity, and will continue to update our community as information is made available to us.”Maconaquah School Corporation