CHICAGO (CBS) – Investigators in Gary, Indiana are still trying to figure out what caused a fire that killed three young children.
CBS 2’s Sandra Torres met with neighbors, who are honoring the victims during this Christmas weekend.
It was a difficult Christmas Eve for neighbors in the apartment complex in Gary, Indiana. Most of them witnessed, as flames took over one of the units, killing three children inside.
“I haven’t gone to sleep,” said neighbor, Diamond Childress. “I can’t get their screams out of my head. It’s terrible.”
It took Gary firefighters about two hours to control the fire that started in the living room around 11:30 p.m. Friday night.
“The roof was engulfed,” said neighbor, Rick Dungy. “It was a sight you couldn’t imagine.”
The three children, all under 5-years old and two adults were upstairs. The adults survived, but the kids did not make it out.
“Two of them in one room,” said Mark Jones, Gary Fire Department. “The other on the stairway in the second floor.”
“Christmas Eve are you kidding me?” said neighbor, Janisha Powe. “December 24, that is the most heartbreaking thing in the world.”
Making it even tougher for the firefighters involved.
“One of the firefighters collapsed,” said Childress. “They had to use an oxygen tank, because they could not even take it.”
While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, neighbors are coming together and placing teddy bears near the scene.
That is the neighbors’ way of honoring the children that did not make it out.
“It’s Christmas Eve,” said Childress. “They didn’t deserve it.”
The Lake County coroner’s office has identified two of the victims as 4-year-old Alaya Pickens and 5-year-old Jayden Mitchell. The third victim was 2-year old, but the child’s name is not being released at this time.