FLORA, Ind. – Four children died in an early morning house fire in Carroll County. This morning authorities released their identities:
- Kionnie Precious Welch, age 5
- Kerriele Danyell McDonald, age 7
- Kayara Janell Phillips, age 9
- Keyana Latrice Davis, age 11
According to Indiana State Police, the fire broke out at a home in the 100 block of East Columbia Street in Flora. State police said four children were trapped inside the home.
One woman awoke to see her neighbors’ home in flames and heard scream she’ll never forget.
“I just heard the mother and children screaming,” said Chasity Fox. “The mom was hollering for the children and she was hollering back for her. Very heart breaking and hard. I can’t imagine what the mother is feeling.”
The Carroll County Coroner’s Office confirmed to CBS4 that all four sisters died.
According to the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office, their mother was airlifted to Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis. A friend of the family said the children who died were between the ages of 4 and 12. Chief Paul Redmon with the Flora Fire Department said the children are all sisters in grades Pre-K through sixth grade at Carroll Elementary.
4 Fast Facts
- Four children dead after early morning fire in Flora
- State police said children were trapped inside the home
- Two police officers were injured while trying to rescue the children
- A woman was also airlifted from the scene
“They say they heard sirens and helicopters–I didn’t see the flames, but I wanted to come down here to make sure it wasn’t them because I heard it by Pizza King,” said family friend Jennifer Endress. “When I came down here, it was them.”
Endress continued, “I started crying. My youngest daughter is best friends with her oldest daughter.”
Two police officers were also injured, Deputy Drew Yoder from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department and Officer Josh Disinger from the Flora Police Department, according to the state fire marshal. Yoder had burns to his hands and forehead, but the primary concern is damage to his lungs from smoke inhalation. Disinger suffered from smoke inhalation but was able to be released from the hospital Monday evening.
Yoder’s family wrote about his injuries on Facebook:
My brother and another officer were on duty this morning and went into a house fire to try to save 4 children. My brother is intubated from bad smoke inhalation but stable at this time. His lungs will be scoped later today to see how badly his lungs are burnt which will tell how long he needs to be on the vent to help him breathe…his hands, scalp and ears are the only part of his skin that have burns and for now they say those look good. His fellow officer is stable and saved my brothers life by pulling him out of the fire.
Please pray for my brother and his brother in blue. Also please pray for the family of those 4 precious children…and pray for the entire Carroll county community. Will keep updates through the day when we know more. Thank you to all of those that have reached out and are thinking about our family and my brother. He loves his job and is a selfless, strong and loving person.
“He’s stable, he’s sedated, he’s incubated, he has burns to his hands and ears and to the top of his head,” said Flora Fire Department Assistant Chief Todd Trent.
Most of the damage to the home appeared to be on the first floor. Officials have not released information regarding the point of origin or cause.
They will bring in canine units to sniff and rule out out any accelerants. They are also calling in some new technology called arc mapping. It will be able to determine where power failures occurred in the house at the time of the fire. This will show were the fire originated.
They are not saying accidental or intentional, and cannot say whether it was electrical or not.
According to Assistant Chief Derek Jackson with the Burlington Fire Department, several departments battled the fire.
“Since we’re all volunteer fire departments out here, if it comes out as a structure fire pretty quick at least the first few departments are going to be called in so we can set up what we need to do as far as fire safety, fire ground and obviously the extinguishment of the fire,” Jackson said.
Jackson acknowledged that it was a challenge for crews to respond to the fire knowing that children were involved.
“[We] try to keep our own emotions under control,” he said. “As you guys know there was one police officer that was flown to Fort Wayne he was one of the first officers here and he tried to go in under his own power so he’s up there getting taken care of now. There was a tag team that went in there to attack the fire and there was a second team that went in there to search and rescue part of it.”
Jackson said the home has two apartments, one upstairs and one downstairs. The fire was concentrated on the lower floor, and the apartment on the second floor didn’t have any damage.
So far this year, Indiana has seen 56 fire deaths. In 2015, there were 77 deaths attributed to fire.
Carroll Consolidated Schools issued the following statement:
Carroll Consolidated Schools experienced the tragic loss of four students early this morning. Our staff and students are struggling to deal with this devastating news. Grief counselors have been available all day today. Grief counselors will continue to be available Tuesday. Although school is not in session Wednesday prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, counselors will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. That information is also available on the district website.
All activities, other than high school practices in keeping with IHSAA requirements, have been cancelled for the week.
Anyone needing support is encouraged to talk to the counselors and clergy that will be available at Carroll Elementary, 105 S. 225 E, Flora.
There is no additional information the district can share at this time, but we ask for kindness and prayers for the family and community.