GARY, Indiana — Two children were killed after a fire broke out in an apartment building Sunday in Gary, IN, officials confirm.
The Gary Fire Department says a fire started on the fourth floor of the apartment complex around 11 a.m., including an apartment with four children inside.
Boys from the neighborhood say one of the children, estimated to be around seven years old, jumped out of the window and into a blanket they held to break his fall — and save his life.
"When we told the boy to jump, he jumped, and we just crowded him in,” neighbor Joseph Payne said.
Two other children, a 5-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl were taken to Northlake Gary Methodist Hospital, but died soon after. According to neighbors, a fourth child was able to crawl into the hallway to safety.
“It was terrifying….Knowing there was a fire in the building. It was heartbreaking when I seen the two kids come outside in the ambulance. It was crazy," neighbor Earl Stiff said.
It took firefighters four hours to battle the blaze on a sad, dramatic day for the community. Neighbors say the mother of the children was at her boyfriend’s house at the time of the fire.
"Lost life is just never a good thing, and especially when you're trying all you can do to save a life,” said Gary Fire Department Chief of Operations Mark E. Jones.
While the fire department says it only took them three minutes to arrive on scene, neighbors say it took an hour and a half. The boys who made the rescue say they felt like they had to do something because the fire department wasn’t doing its job.
This apartment did have functioning fire alarms, neighbors say. The fire is under investigation.