SPRINGFIELD, Tenn. (AP) — Four children under the age of 10 were killed and another child and an adult were injured when a home in Middle Tennessee caught fire early Monday, a fire official said.
Springfield Fire Chief Jimmy Hamill said firefighters arrived within four minutes of getting the call at 3:34 a.m. to find heavy fire coming from the front of the house in Springfield. Crews fought their way into the small home to search for survivors and knocked the blaze down quickly, but found four children, ages 4, 7, 8 and 9, dead near the back of the house.
Hamill says the children's father and a female child were taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. He said the father was in very critical condition. He didn't have information on the child's condition.
Hamill said the mother and two other children escaped unharmed.
A neighbor, Ricardo Morales, told The Tennessean that his wife was awoken by screams coming from the home.
"She looked out the window and saw the flames," Morales said in an interview translated from Spanish.
He said they called 911 and he went outside with his sons and nephews to help.
"We managed to get out a little girl and three others, including a man," Morales said. "He was badly burned but wanted to go back inside the house."
The flames were too hot and they held him back. "He wanted to save his children," Morales said.
They tried to get more of the children out through a window, but they weren't successful.
"We wish we could have done more," he said.
The fire appears to be accidental, Hamill said. According to the preliminary investigation, officials think the blaze began in the living room of the home because that room that sustained the most damage. The rest of the house had heavy heat and smoke damage.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.