Two children killed in Cumberland condo fire

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CUMBERLAND, Ind.– Two children were killed and several others were hospitalized, including the children’s mother, following a condominium fire on the far east side Monday morning.

Indianapolis Fire Department crews were dispatched to the 12000 block of Welland Street in Cumberland, Ind. at approximately 9:20 a.m. on a report of a fire with an entrapment.

Crews were able to contain the fire at the Raintree Commons Condominiums in less than 30 minutes.

“They made a quick, aggressive interior attack to extinguish the fire and bring it under control so that it did not spread to the other units, the surrounding units,” said Jason Kistler with IFD.

Officials tentatively identified the deceased children as Forest and Genesis Eppert.

The children’s mother, Stephanie Eppert, was transported to the hospital in critical condition, with injuries to her lungs. Eppert’s 19-year-old son, Marcus Benton, and a family friend were also transported to area hospitals in stable condition.

Neighbors told Fox59 they heard a boy screaming. One neighbor, Raymond Alvarez, said he attempted to go in the upstairs window to help rescue residents inside.

“I went and grabbed my ladder, tried to bust the window so I could get in to help them, but the flames were already too hot,” said Alvarez. “Smoke coming out of the windows and I couldn’t do nothing else.”

Cumberland Police Chief Michael Crooke said the three children living in the apartment were autistic and that one of the children had a history of removing face plates from electrical outlets to play with the wires.

Officials are still working to determine the exact cause of the fire, but investigators believe it may have accidentally been started by one of the children.

Fox59 was told the family was scheduled to move into a Habitat for Humanity home in September.  Crews were set to begin building the home at the end of July.

“Every decision this mother made was for a better life for her kids,” said a Habitat for Humanity employee.

Officials with Habitat for Humanity and the Autism Society of Indiana are working to help the family.

cumberland fire victims

Genesis and Forest Eppert
Photo courtesy of Eppert Facebook page