A residential fire in South Bend killed five children Sunday.
When first responders arrived at a home on LaPorte Avenue near Colfax Avenue in the early evening, they found “intense flames” engulfing the structure’s first and second floors, according to the South Bend Fire Department.
The fire department formally identified the victims in a Wednesday news release. They were 17-month-old Faith Smith, 4-year-old D’Angelo Smith, 5-year-old Deontay Smith, 9-year-old Davida Smith and 10-year-old Demetis Smith.
Their older sister, 11-year-old Angel Smith, remained in critical condition at an Indianapolis hospital, according to the news release.
The children’s father David Smith, who escaped the fire with minor injuries, said he was watching television with the kids upstairs when one of his sons noticed the smell of smoke on a trip to the bathroom.
“I jumped up and when I looked down the stairs, I saw smoke coming up the steps,” Smith told Cindy Johnson in a video posted to Facebook. “So I try to run down there to see where the fire was and then all of a sudden it went whoosh.”
Smith said the smoke became so thick and black that it was soon impossible to see.
“I start passing out and I stuck my head out the window, got me some fresh air,” he added. “I tried to crawl back to where the babies and stuff was at. I could just get part of the way and the smoke was just taking all my oxygen from me, so I went and dove out the window.”
According to the South Bend Fire Department, one firefighter received minor burns and another, who fell through a hole in the second floor and landed on the first floor, is resting comfortably at home while undergoing further evaluations.
In the days following the fire, community members placed stuffed animals, flowers and balloons around the charred house.