BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A family is grieving after a 2-year-old died in a house fire Sunday morning. Fire crews were called to the home on South Tyler Lane in Bloomington just before 8 a.m.
The State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the fatal fire. Investigators said they didn’t find working smoke detectors inside the home. They did find evidence indicating the kids were playing with matches but they have not determined that as the cause of the fire.
"When I saw the fire and the ladies were outside, I was just shocked," said one neighbor.
He said some neighbors crowded around the Bloomington home as fire consumed it with children inside. He later found out a 2-year-old, Kenneth Dale Lane Jr., didn’t make it out.
The family called him KJ. The boy's father said he was at work when the fire started. His wife woke up to it and tried to get their four children out but she couldn’t find KJ.
Christina Lanfarr, KJ's grandmother, said he was the sweetest little boy who loved Batman. She loved sharing the story about how he was born in a bathroom.
"When you go as a grandparent to an ambulance, you start counting heads and there is one missing. It is heart wrenching," said Lanfarr.
The community is trying to ease their pain by dropping off donations at the family's restaurant in Martinsville, Charlies Drive-In. Some strangers drove more than an hour to drop off supplies, clothing or money.
"This is not a large community but they have large hearts," Lanfarr said.
The family said right now they need monetary donations for funeral expenses, clothing and rent. KJ's father said the Red Cross helped with food and a place to stay for a few nights. One woman in Bloomington plans to collect donations for the family.
"Two and a half months ago, I lost my son and I know the community was amazing at rallying," said Ashlie Kehrberg, a Bloomington resident.
Kehrberg said she is willing to bring donations to Charlies Drive-In for anyone who cannot make the drive to Martinsville. The family said this support is taking some stress away as they focus on remembering KJ.
"They have helped us tremendously beyond a shadow of a doubt," Lanfarr said.
If you would like to help, you can drop off donations at Charlies Drive-In during business hours. They are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The family also set up a GoFundMe page for funeral expenses.