UPDATE: IFD said the man died early Wednesday morning. His name has not yet been released. The four children remained in critical condition.
INDIANAPOLIS – Four children and an adult are still in critical condition following a fire at an apartment complex on the east side on Monday night.
“Those types of situations don’t happen very often but when they do, it’s important that everybody is on their a-game and what happened last night is everybody was on their a-game,” Battalion Chief Rita Reith said.
Firefighters were called to the reports of an apartment fire at the “Briergate Apartments” at around 10:20 p.m. Monday in the 2800 block of Elwin Drive.
Fire crews found light smoke in a hallway when they entered the building. While the cause is still under investigation, fire crews located the fire in an first floor apartment on a couch where it had nearly burned itself out.
Firefighters quickly put out the fire and located a 28-year-old man and his 1-year-old daughter next to the couch. Fire crews also located the man’s 3-year-old daughter, a 12-year-old boy, and a 14-year-old boy in a bedroom.
Reith said all victims were experiencing cardiac arrest when they arrived and immediately started CPR.
“A lot of strong work goes into a normal fire but whenever you show up and have [five] victims in cardiac arrest and for them to be treated and transported to the hospital, it’s remarkable,” State Fire Marshal Steve Jones said. “I want to compliment IFD. That’s strong work on their part is able to take a run like that and get everybody to the hospital so quickly.”
All five victims were transported to the hospital in critical, but stable condition. The mother of the four children was not home at the time but met investigators at the hospital.
IFD says part of their investigation is figuring out why there were no working smoke alarms inside that apartment. IFD said the complex told them they had just checked that smoke alarm two weeks ago.
“For whatever reason, the smoke alarm in that structure was not sounding last night,” Reith said. “We do know that there was a working smoke alarm in the common hallway of that apartment building.”
Investigators say there was no fire extension into the building, but the victims were displaced due to utility shut off and smoke in their apartment.
IFD Victims Assistance is working with the Red Cross to find them shelter.
Importance of working smoke alarms and fire escape plan
This situation further demonstrates the importance of working smoke alarms.
“In most fires, you’ve only got about two minutes at most to react to the noise and get out,” Jones said.
Jones says it’s imperative families form an escape plan in the event of a fire and hold fire drills, especially with children
“To make for sure they understand how to get out, staying out and then have a common meeting place outside because whenever the fire department shows up, that’s the first thing we want to know, is everybody out,” Jones said.
Jones adds it’s important to close all bedroom doors when people are sleeping.
“Smoke puts you in a deeper sleep and so if those doors are open and you don’t hear the alarm, you typically don’t wake up coughing, the typical thing is it’s going to put you unconscious,” Jones explained.
Jones says if you need help finding or installing a smoke alarm, you can reach out to your local fire department. They can help you get one through the Get Alarmed program.
You can find out more about that program at www.in.gov/dhs/get-prepared.