Six children and two adults died when a fire tore through their West Virginia home today.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said he believed it was the city’s deadliest fire in at least six decades. He said only one smoke detector was found in a cabinet, and it was not working.
Mr Jones said he was devastated by the news when he learned of the deaths early today.
“I was with my children and I just grabbed them and hugged them, because I have a five-year-old and a four-year-old,” he said. “I walked up there and caught a glimpse of some fatalities and it’s something that’s hard to grasp. The fact that there are (six) dead children, it’s unimaginable.”
Charleston Assistant Fire Chief Bob Sharp said two of those killed were adults, and all of the children who died were younger than eight.
In addition, one child was on life support at a hospital and not expected to survive, the mayor said.
Ten people were inside the home at the time of the fire and all were related.
Neighbours indicated there had been a birthday party at the home yesterday for one of the adults. Mr Sharp said a couple of families may have been living in the home.
An adult female from the home went to a neighbour’s house to report the fire. The home was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.
Mr Sharp said firefighters reduced the flames quickly. When they went inside, they immediately came across five victims and “started realising there were a lot of people in this house, a lot of children”.
He said the fire seems to have started in the middle of the home’s main level. The cause is under investigation.
He said it was the deadliest fire in the city since seven firefighters perished in while battling a fire at a Woolworth department store in 1949.