MEMPHIS – Fire officials in Tennessee say nine people have died after a blaze burned a home in Memphis.
Memphis Fire Director Gina Sweat said four adults and three children died at the scene early Monday. Two other children died after being taken to hospital in extremely critical condition. Sweat said another child is fighting for life.
“It is my understanding that we received a phone call from a cellphone 911 from inside the residence,” Sweat told reporters.
Fire Department Lt. Wayne Cook said the first firefighters who arrived at the scene about 1:30 a.m. saw smoke coming out of the one-storey home where a family of 10 lived. He said it took about 15 minutes for firefighters to extinguish the blaze.
“It appears that the fire started in the living room area and the cause of the fire is still under investigation,” said Sweat. “We did find a smoke detector on the scene, but due to the damage we were unable to determine if it worked or not.”
Sweat said only about a quarter of the home was damaged by the fire, but heavy smoke contributed to the extent of the casualties.
Sweat said first responders were struggling to cope with the number of lives lost in the blaze, saying it was the deadliest fire in the city since the 1920s.
“As I walked among the firefighters and paramedics among the scene this morning, I could see the pain in their eyes and I could feel the heavy emotions in their hearts,” Sweat said.
— With files from The Associated Press