Nine members of the same family died in a house fire in Memphis, TN early Monday. Six children and three adults were killed in the deadliest house fire in Memphis in decades.
Firefighters received a 911 call at 1:20 a.m. Monday from someone inside the home who said they were trapped by burglar bars at the windows and doors.
Emergency responders arrived 5 minutes later, but it took firefighters 15 minutes to break through the security bars.
They found the bodies of the three adults and four children inside the home.
Three children survived the fire, but 2 later died at a local hospital.
Cameron Jett, 8, is listed in extreme critical condition from smoke inhalation.
Only 25% of the house was damaged by the fire. Most of the victims died from smoke inhalation.
The young victims include 3-year-old Precious Rose Jett, Kierra Jett, 5; Diamond Jett, 7; Ernest Jett V, 9; Angel Mitchell, 16; and six-year-old Alonzo Ward.
Alonzo's mother, LaKeisha Ward, 27, was ironing clothes for the children to wear to school the next day. Officials are trying to determine if the iron sparked the fire which started in the living room.
The children's grandmother Eloise Futrell, 61, and Carol Collier, 56, also perished in the fire.
Ward's mother, Veronica Trammell, drove five and a half hours from Fayette, Mississippi to be with her family.
"I know my daughter didn’t want to leave Alonzo here with me that’s why God took them on," she told The Tennessean.
Trammell called Ward's boyfriend at the hospital and told him to "Hold Cameron's hand until I get there".
The father of six of the children was at a convenience store when the fire broke out.
He returned home to see firefighters carrying the children's bodies out of the house.
"I’ve never seen firemen cry, but they were bawling like babies when they brought the children out," a neighbor told The Tennessean newspaper.
"They are all gone," said a family member. "Our hearts are ripped in two."
The wood-frame brick house is located in a low-income, high crime neighborhood in south Memphis.
Burglar bars are installed on nearly every house on the street.
UPDATE: Fire investigators determined the cause of the fire was an air conditioner power cord in the living room.
A smoke alarm inside the structure was working at the time of the fire.
The City of Memphis urges all residents to have a working smoke alarm in their residence.
City of Memphis residents may apply for a free smoke alarm by completing an
application: SmokeDetectorRequestForm.aspx or by contacting the Fire Museum of Memphis at (901) 636-5650. Always have a plan of escape in case there is a fire. Also remember that 9-1-1 is for emergencies only. For all other FIRE/EMS NON-EMERGENCY issues please dial (901) 458-8281.
Thanks to loyal reader Janice J. for the update.