On Saturday, Spokane’s fire department told the horrific and heart-breaking tale of a recent house fire that cost a 3-year-old boy and his dog their lives. The body of the young boy was found huddled together with his dog and a teddy bear, officials believe the two died together after the dog stayed with the boy while trying to protect him.
The fire broke out in the North Spokane Hillyard neighborhood at about 11:30 p.m. on Friday according to Brian Schaeffer, the Assistant Fire Chief and spokesman for the fire department. The home was located on East Longfellow Road near North Myrtle Street and the two adults who were home at the time managed to rescue three other children from the burning home before the fire blazed beyond their control. Though the home had fire detectors, the batteries had reportedly not been working and were taken out, so there was no early warning of the fire.
It was not until after the blaze had died out, along with the screams of anguish of the mother of the boy, that the fire department was able to gain access to the home. According to KREM, a CBS affiliate, the firefighters found the body of the 3-year-old boy huddled with that of the family dog, a terrier mixed breed, who also died in the fire. The boy and the dog had been huddled in bed, along with a teddy bear when they were killed, unable to escape the fire.
Schaeffer said that the call is one that these professional firefighters will never forget and a neighbor reported that he had even seen one of the firefighters at the scene break down.
“I saw the fire man crying, he was sitting on the rear bumper of the fire truck. I was actually broke into tears too. It was kind of an emotional evening.”
Officials reported that firefighters arrived within minutes of the call, but even before they did, the neighbors had been trying to assist the family with putting out the fire. Jerry Atabelo, who lives across the street from the home, said he saw the flames and heard screaming just as he had been getting ready for bed. Yelling for his wife to call 911, the man dashed outside and set about attaching his 150-foot water hose to a pipe, it had previously been disconnected for the winter while other neighbors dragged the hose to douse the blaze.
“I heard this commotion on the street and immediately knew because the flames were coming out of their house… The mom was out there yelling out ‘my baby’s in there, my baby’s in there.’ It was just devastating, it was heartbreaking.”
Working together, the Spokane citizens got a head start on the firefighters and began trying to spray water inside the house through a window but unfortunately, it was to no avail. The firefighters did manage to put out the fire when they arrived, but when they went through the house afterwards they found the emotionally jarring scene.
Schaefer said that the heat in the house would have reached temperatures too intense to survive. Schaefer said that the fire, “melted everything, there was no way to survive that.” The flames had been so hot that the metal frame of the boy’s bed had melted.
“Unfortunately the growth was incredible. There was a huge amount of heat. Likely upwards to about a thousand degrees toward the floor of the fire bedroom where the child was located… They went in to find the three-year-old boy and his dog had already succumbed to their injuries, pretty severe injuries.”
Officials from the Spokane Fire Department’s Special Investigative Unit, along with the Spokane Police Major Crimes Detectives, responded to the scene and will both be investigating the cause of the fire and the death of the little boy. The Spokane-Review reports that the fire department provides alarms and batteries to anyone who needs it.
The identity of the boy has not been revealed to the public, but reportedly no one else had been hurt in the fire.
[Featured Image by AP Images]