Frankfort house fire claims life of 8-month-old boy


Photo taken by Zach Myers in Frankfort on December 2, 2019

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Editor's note: We initially reported a mother escaped with the father and children, but the fire chief issued a correction. A father and two children escaped from the fire. This information is updated in our story.

FRANKFORT, Ind. – One child is dead after being trapped in a burning house in Frankfort.

The call for the fire came in at 10:09 a.m. Monday for a house in the 1300 block of West Jefferson Street.

Frankfort police officers were the first people to get to the scene. They tried to rescue the child, but they were unable to because of the intensity of the smoke and flames.

Firefighters arrived and found the home fully engulfed in flames, officials said.

Frankfort Fire Chief John Kirby confirmed to CBS4 that the child was an eight-month-old boy who was found in his crib on the first floor of the home.

The child’s father and two other children escaped and were taken to IU Health Frankfort to be checked out and have since been released.

Kirby said it is the first fatal fire in Frankfort since last winter, and this is the first deadly fire involving a child death he can remember in his career.

“Definitely, at time like this hits close to home,” Kirby said.  “A lot of our firefighters, police officers, we’ve got kids of our own.  And it’s just something that it’s heartbreaking for our community and for the guys that had to work this fire.”

Frankfort Mayor Chris McBarnes said they are bringing the state fire marshal in on the investigation, which is standard procedure for a fatal fire.

“It’s an absolute tragic day for our community,” McBarnes said.  “It doesn’t get any worse than this, having a child pass this close to the holidays.”

While the investigation moves forward, McBarnes said now is a time for mourning and healing.

“The only way you get through this is as a community,” McBarnes said.  “So I’m calling on the community, all citizens, all residents, the state of Indiana to lift our community up in prayers.  To lift this family up in prayers.”

“As soon as I knew the Coroner had been called, I burst into tears,” said family friend, Kim Prathers.  “I’ve lost a child.  I know they don’t just call the coroner on scene as protocol.  So I’m devastated for them.”

One Frankfort police officer was also taken to IU Health Frankfort after being “singed” on his face when he tried to get into the house. The officer was also treated for smoke inhalation and was later released.

Chief Kirby also said the autopsy of the child will be done in a different county, most likely Marion County.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. Loss of life in any situation is horrible, but when it’s a child, it is heartbreaking,” said Kirby.

Frankfort’s Faith Family Church is assisting the family with temporary housing. Anyone who wishes to help the family can contact the church at (765) 659-3011.

Officials said the fire is still under investigation at this time.

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