UPDATE: FEB. 19, 2013
A correction is being made to the name of one of the children killed in a fire yesterday at Interfaith Homes. The names of the twins are reported to be Tevin and Ty'Niyah Williams.
FEB. 18, 2013
A fire broke out in an apartment at Interfaith Homes in Kalamazoo and claimed the lives of three young children on Feb. 18, 2013. Police were dispatched around 2 p.m. to 1054 Interfaith Blvd. The children have been identified as twins, Tevin and Tinya Williams, 3, and Tyonna Henderson, 1. The children were pronounced dead at the scene. One additional child has survived the fire.
When firefighters and Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (KDPS) officers arrived, the apartment was completely engulfed in flames, trapping the three children inside. Firefighters believe the fire started on the first floor and had spread to the second floor where the children were believed to have been trapped.
KDPS Assistant Chief Brian Uridge revealed that firefighters found the apartment stairway was completely destroyed, so they used ladders to try to rescue the children through a second-story window as neighbors and family watched in horror. Many people reported the children to be home to the authorities.
According to neighbors and witnesses who were present when the fire erupted, the children's mother left them home with her boyfriend. He also left the apartment, leaving the children alone inside. According to the children's mother, she had went to a neighbor's home for a few minutes, and her boyfriend was standing outside when the fire began. Some neighbors tried to get into the apartment to help the children but were forced back by the severity of the fire.
News sources report that the mother was not far away from the apartment when the fire broke out, and she returned to discover the fire with her children inside crying. She attempted to get into the apartment to save them and had to be sent to the hospital for fire injuries.
An investigation is being conducted to determine the cause of the fire. It is not known if the smoke detectors were working in the apartment. It is believed that the fire had been burning for about ten minutes before anyone noticed it.
KDPS Chief Jeff Hadley expressed his feelings of having a 'heavy heart' and went on to say that Monday was one of the worst days of his life. Hadley also told Kalamazoo City Commissioners,
Not to minimize all that's been talked about tonight...but it kind of puts it in a lot of perspective by way of the lives that we've lost today.
This tragic accident cause much anger in some of the local residents, resulting in fights breaking out. One person was arrested because of the fights. Additional officers had to be brought to the scene of the fire to assist with crowd control.
The twins' grandfather, Tommy Williams, watched in disbelief as three stretchers were brought in but not used. He had come to realize that his grandchildren were not coming out of the fire alive.
...They had three stretchers, and they took those away, so if they're in there, they're burned up.
It is not known, yet, if children's mother or her boyfriend will be facing criminal charges.
One firefighter fell off a ladder that collapsed and was treated at the hospital for minor injuries.