MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Fire Department said six children and three adults were killed in an early-morning house fire in south Memphis on Monday morning. Another child is in “fighting for their life,” fire officials said.
Firefighters rushed to the house around 1:30 a.m. after someone inside the home called 911.
Investigators said the house had a security door and bars on windows, and the family was unable to open the bars in time and escape.
“As firefighters entered the building they started locating victims inside the residence. In total, they removed ten victims from the house,” Memphis Fire Director Gina Sweat said.
One child was in critical condition at the hospital. Firefighters wept as they carried the bodies out of the house, neighbors told USA Today.
“I’ve never seen firemen cry, but they were bawling like babies when they brought the children out,” neighbor Shoundra Hampton told USA Today.
“In my 27 years with the Memphis Fire Department, I’ve never seen this amount of victims in one incident,” said Lt. Wayne Cooke with the Memphis Fire Department. “We sincerely pray for this family, and the loved ones and friends of this family.”
“This is the most tragic loss of life in a single fire incident since the 1920s,” Sweat said. “The hearts of the men and women of the department are heavy and deeply touched, from the dispatchers who took the call to the first responders who were on the scene.”
Investigators said the fire started in living room and only burned 25 percent of the home.
Firefighters found a smoke detector, but it was too damaged to tell if it was working.
Most of the fatalities were caused by smoke inhalation, investigators said.