Two girls dead, two boys in 'extremely poor' condition after Racine fire
RACINE - Two girls have died and two boys are in what Racine's fire chief call "extremely poor" condition after being trapped in a house fire overnight.
Eight-year-old Dalija Scott and nine-year-old Dayja Scott died in the fire. Four firefighters were also receiving treatment for exhaustion.
The fire happened at about 12:45 a.m. Thursday in a home on the 1900 block of Linden Avenue.
According to Fire Chief Steve Hansen, dispatchers heard children screaming when the mother made the initial 9-1-1 phone call.
"(She) had left the residence after trying to rescue her trapped children," said Hansen in a Thursday morning news conference.
Firefighters arrived four minutes after that initial call.
When they got on scene, firefighters found an injured man. Paramedics assisted him on scene.
They then found out that the room where the kids were trapped had bars on the windows.
Hansen said in a statement that firefighters were able to get one child out immediately, but it took about another 12 minutes to get two other children out, and another five minutes to get the fourth child out.
He said that the bars, heavy fire and smoke, and the amount of furniture blocking doorways made "search and rescue extremely difficult."
"The second fire crew entered the front door of the home and immediately encountered household furnishings which impeded the rescue operations," according to Hansen during his news conference.
One rescue crew went through a window.
Crews took the four children and one man to Wheaton All Saints Hospital. The two girls died there. Eight-year-old Dalija Scott and nine-year-old Dayja Scott attended Fratt Elementary School in Racine. TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Todd Hicks says that grief counselors were on hand at the school Thursday.
Paramedics were taking the other two boys to Children's Hospital in Milwaukee.
The mother went to Wheaton All Saints Hospital on their own.
"All city fire department resources were committed to the fire for over 90 minutes," Chief Hansen said.
Racine Fire and Police investigators were looking into the cause of the fire Thursday morning. They believe the fire began in a first floor bathroom.
TODAY'S TMJ4's Todd Hicks confirms that We Energies shut off power at that home last week. We Energies wouldn't elaborate on why they shut off the power.
Racine Fire Capt. Brett Haller said these are the first fire deaths in the City of Racine this year.
"It really hurts us all, but we're sticking together," explained Timothy Scott to TODAY'S TMJ4's Nick Montes.
Scott, the kids' uncle, "came outside and (saw) nothing but the fire trucks and ambulances everywhere. I was just just asking what was going on."
"They were good kids. We used to babysit them...it hurts to know they're gone."
A neighbor explained to Montes that his son was traumatized by the loss of his playmates.
"He (saw) when the ambulance was taking the kids out. That's what was more hard on him," said Terry Golden.
Another neighbor remembered that a fire 20 years ago killed three other children.
"I'm still shaking a little bit. It's a lot of years apart, but it's still the same thing," explained Ruth Ann Fennell.