Monday 5 December 2016

One child left fighting for life after house blaze kills nine family members

Published 12/09/2016 | 16:56

Aftermath at the scene of the fire Credit: CBS News
Aftermath at the scene of the fire Credit: CBS News

Fire officials in Tennessee say nine people are dead after a blaze enveloped a home in Memphis in the early hours.

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Memphis fire director Gina Sweat added that one child is fighting for life in a hospital.

Fire Department Lt Wayne Cooke said the first firefighters who arrived at the scene about 1:30am saw smoking coming out of the one-storey home where a family of 10 lived.

It took about 15 minutes for firefighters to extinguish the blaze.

Officials are trying to determine what caused the fire.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland asked for prayers for family members of the dead.

"It's a very sad day," Mr Strickland said. "We are all in mourning."

The fire apparently began in the living room, but an exact cause has not been determined, Ms Sweat said. Some of the victims had signs of smoke inhalation, while others had burns, she said.

A smoke detector was found the building, but it was damaged and officials did not immediately know if it was working at the time of the fire, Ms Sweat said.

The home also had bars on the windows. Ms Sweat said it was not immediately clear if those inside tried to escape through the windows.

She added that window bars present a danger for people trying to escape a house fire, though many window bars have releases that can open them from the inside.

"They could have been simply overcome by smoke and never had an opportunity to escape," she said.

Ms Sweat went to the site and spoke with firefighters.

"You could feel the heavy in their hearts, and you could see the pain in their eyes," she said.

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