A condo fire in Osage Beach has left four children dead.
According to Reuters, reported via MSN, the fire swept through a condominium building in the central Missouri town of Osage Beach, a lake resort area about 150 miles southwest of St. Louis, killing four children who ranged in age from two to five on Tuesday, August 4. While the children are believed to be related, possibly cousins, they were not siblings, Osage Beach Fire Chief Jeff Dorhauer explained.
“We’ve had fire loss before, and many types of tragedies, but to lose four children under the age of 5 in one call is something my staff will struggle with,” Dorhauer said on Wednesday, August 5.
The victims — two girls, 2, one girl, 4, and a boy, 5 — had apparently all gathered at the condo for a birthday party when the fire ignited. There was an adult male in the fourth-floor condo, as well, and was the dead boy’s father. He was able to escape from the burning building, but was not able to get back to save the children. Two other adults were rescued from the third floor of the building, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. One of the children lived at the home, and the mother of that child was at work at the time of the fire.
City and state investigators were examining the remains of the condo on Wednesday, and listed the fire as “suspicious.” Currently, Dorhauer says there is nothing to lead them to think the fire was part of a crime, but they are still investigating all possible causes.
“It is listed as suspicious only because of the deaths,” Dorhauer said. “There is nothing to lead us to believe it is a crime and nothing to lead to believe it was not a crime.”
While the building had operable smoke detectors, it is not clear if they were functioning on the fourth floor where the fire originated, possibly in the attic or walls. Firefighters received the call that the building had caught fire at approximately 11:21 p.m. on Tuesday night, and arrived at the scene at approximately 11:30 p.m.. The inside stairway had already collapsed, which forced the firefighters to use ladders to retrieve the children’s bodies.
“When it is children, and when it’s more than one, it becomes personal,” Dorhauer said. “The guys tend to see their family as they’re doing this. And sometimes it’s very hard to get over. As hard as this is, we were able to bring two people out safely. It’s not very comforting for the guys at this point. They did the best they could.”
The identities of the victims have not been released at this time.
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