TELL CITY, Ind. – An overnight fire that killed three siblings under the age of 12 in southern Indiana is under investigation.
Authorities identified the victims as 11-year-old Danielle Plock Sims, 6-year-old Thomas Plock Sims and 3-year-old Roseanna Plock Sims.
Flames were “shooting from almost every window” on the ground floor of the two-story home, in the 1000 block of 15th Street in Tell City, when fire crews arrived early Friday, according to Fire Chief Greg Linne. Tell City is located along the Ohio River in Perry County between Evansville and Louisville, Kentucky.
The intensity of flames prevented police and fire crews from entering the house.
Officials say the children’s mother, Selina Applegate, tried unsuccessfully to get the siblings out of the home. She and two other children escaped the blaze with non-life-threatening injuries, and one of the children called 911 about 3:25 a.m.; Applegate remained hospitalized Friday evening in fair condition.
“I’m not sure how she escaped. We do understand there were efforts made by her to reach her children,” Tell City Police Chief Derrick Lawalin said of Applegate.
Investigators from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office were at the scene throughout the day on Friday to assess the damage and try to determine the cause of the deadly blaze.
Hours after the fire, a small memorial that included an angel and a teddy bear had been erected next to a tree outside the fire-gutted house.
Tell City Mayor Jim Adams called on the community of about 7,300 to support the family during the tragedy, coming only days after Christmas.
“This is supposed to be a joyous time,” he said. “I want to let everybody know we, as a city, we want to just wrap our arms around these family members because we want them to know they’re not alone.”
Tell City-Troy Township Schools said counselors and social workers were available for anyone affected by the fire, which occurred just three blocks from Tell City Junior Senior High School. It posted this statement about the fire on its Facebook page:
Our hearts are heavy. Last night the community lost three wonderful children, full of potential. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family in this trying time. Counselors and social workers are standing by to assist those impacted by this tragedy. To schedule an appointment, please call (812)547-3300 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org