BRAZIL, Ind. -- A devastating fire killed an 18-year-old woman and two children in Brazil, Ind. Another child was injured in the fire, officials said.
It happened Monday around 8:30 p.m. at a residence near Vandalia and Mechanic streets in the Brazil, which is in Clay County in west central Indiana. The Clay County Coroner’s Office said the victims were 18-year-old Raven Elizabeth Rose Tedder, her 4-month-old daughter, Zoiey Alaweigh Jane Tedder, and 4-year-old Shyloi Leeland Dale Stewart, Raven's brother.
The coroner believes the victim died from carbon monoxide intoxication.
“It’s tragic for this family, and the guys on the fire department are taking it pretty hard because they did the best they could and it was still not the outcome you want,” said Brazil Fire Chief, Jake Bennett.
This is the first fatal fire in Brazil since the mid-80s, Bennett said.
Another 6-year-old boy went to Union Hospital in Terre Haute to be treated for respiratory problems. Bennett said the boy's injuries are not life-threatening.
Eleven people were inside the home when the fire started; Bennett said all were family or extended family. Two dogs were removed from the home and survived.
Red Cross in Terre Haute is helping the family, Bennett said.
Fire crews arrived about three minutes after the initial 911 call was made. By the time they got there, the fire had spread quickly.
“We encountered an entire house burning,” Bennett said. “Flames through the roof, it was totally involved.”
Jim Yockey, who lives next door, looked out his front door to see flames shooting from windows throughout the house. He says he could hear yelling and children screaming for their parents.
“I tried to get in the side door over here with my fire extinguisher, and the door blew off at me and flames shot out at me,” Yockey said.
Moments later, Yockey said he and the husband of the young mother who died used a ladder to help several people escape through a second floor window. The ladder allowed them to save one adult, one teenager, and two young boys.
“It wasn’t enough,” he said. “It just wasn’t enough.”
Yockey said he had come to know the 4-year-old boy who died has “his little buddy.” He broke into tears as another neighbor hugged him on his front porch.
“You did all you could, buddy,” the neighbor said.
“My little buddy’s gone,” Yockey replied.
The first firefighters to respond ran into the home looking for victims before the firefighting efforts even began, but intense fire and thick smoke made it impossible for them to find anyone. The victims were discovered in a back room on the second floor.
At one point, a firefighter jumped out of a second-floor window to reach a ladder in order to escape.
“The conditions of that room and the house were worsening so bad he couldn’t survive anymore in there,” Bennett said.
Bennett said the gas to he home had been shut off at some point. Family members were using space heaters and other portable heat sources in the house but cautioned that it was too early to say if the heaters were responsible for starting the fire. It's unknown if the home had working smoke detectors.
The Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office and Brazil Fire Department are investigating. Bennett said the fire's cause and point of origin haven't been determined.
The Red Cross of Terre Haute was assisting surviving family members.
Autopsies on the victims were scheduled for Tuesday.
Ways to help
The Brazil, Indiana community is rallying around the family affected by the fire. Several organizations and businesses are collecting donations for the Stewart family.
An account has been set up at Riddell Bank for anyone wishing to make monetary donations.
The fire survivors lost all their belongings in the fire. A big focus now is on getting them clothing and shoes to make it through the winter. A collection bin has been set up at Kroger in Brazil. The grocery store plans to host a chili cook-off and donation drive Saturday and Sunday.
The Moore Funeral Home and Four Loving Paws Veterinary Services are accepting items, too.
The family asks that anyone willing to help avoid doing so through GoFundMe pages.