BRAZIL, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Officials have identified the two children who died in a trailer fire at Northview Country Estates in Clay County on Wednesday.
According to Clay County Sheriff Paul Harden, the fire resulted in the death of 3-year-old Athena Holdbrook, and 3-month-old Aries Romine.
An autopsy revealed the cause of death for both children to be smoke inhalation.
Responding deputies reported heavy flames and smoke had consumed the home at 3805 W SR 340 by the time they arrived on scene. Although the trailer was engulfed in flames, deputies entered the home but were forced to retreat due to lack of protective gear and heavy smoke inside.
Fire personnel reportedly made multiple attempts to enter the home and rescue the children, but were unable to do so due to the intensity of the fire.
According to the news release, “Detectives determined that an 11-year-old aunt was also with the family however she was not in the home or injured as a result of the fire. Detectives have also determined that no adult was present or in the home during the time of the fire.”
The sheriff said the father was at work, while the mother was across the street at a neighbor’s home.
The investigation remains ongoing, however, the State Fire Marshal has preliminarily determined the cause of the fire was an electrical issue, potentially an electrical power strip.
“Anytime we have a death, especially in something as tragic as this, we do an extremely thorough investigation and we’re still doing that at this time,” Clark said. “We have a lot of interviews to still complete.”
Clark explained that this time of year, these kinds of things can happen more frequently.
“Tragedies happen this time of year, it’s cold, there’s always a chance of fires with standalone heaters and so forth, unfortunately, this was, uh, appears to be, a complete accident. Accidents occur all the time, again this was a tragedy, I feel horrible for the family, and all the family members of the two children,” Clark said. “This is hard for first responders, law enforcement, firefighters, EMS response, it’s just tragic, nobody should have to see the sights that were seen that night.”
The sheriff said that once the investigation is complete, a full report will be sent to the Clay County Prosecutor’s Office for further review. Anyone with information regarding the situation is encouraged to call the Clay County Sheriff’s Office at 812-446-2535.
Numerous agencies assisted in the investigation.