INDIANAPOLIS | A fire swept through a small home in Indianapolis on Saturday morning, killing a couple and two of their children and leaving two surviving siblings in "very critical" condition, a fire official said.
The home is adjacent to a busy Interstate 70 overpass, and a motorist on that highway reported the fire about 9:10 a.m., Capt. Rita Reith said. Subsequent 911 calls led crews to the home's exact location in an east-side neighborhood.
Firefighters found the parents and their four children — ages 14, 11, 8 and 6 — unconscious inside the small bungalow-style home. They brought the family outside to begin efforts to resuscitate them on the lawn outside the property, Reith said.
"They knew they had victims inside the house, but they were not expecting six," she said.
The parents, a man in his early 40s and a woman in her early 30s, were pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Eskenazi Hospital, she said. The two children were pronounced dead at Riley Hospital for Children, and their siblings remained hospitalized in critical condition Saturday afternoon, Reith said.
"We have two children, who are very, very critical condition," she said. "It's been a horrific morning for us."
She said firefighters extinguished the fire in about 10 minutes.
Reith said that one of the 911 callers reported that they had heard people yelling inside the home, which she described as about the size of a two-car garage, but investigators aren't sure what unfolded inside.
"They were awake if that's the case, but they still couldn't get out. Was the fire location, and where they were located in the house, not allowing them to get out? We don't know," she said.
The home sits in a lower-income neighborhood with a mix of small, poorly-kept homes built next to an industrial corridor and a major interstate.
Hours after the fire, the tan single-story home's exterior showed few signs of fire damage, aside from soot that blackened the outside some of its windows. Reith said the interior suffered heavy fire damage.
She said the ages of the deceased children will not be released until relatives are notified.
The couple was married and the family had lived there for several years, Reith said.
The investigation into the cause of the fire started immediately, Reith said, but firefighters hadn't found signs that the home had working smoke detectors.
Indianapolis has had eight fire deaths in 2014, including those lost in Saturday's fire, she said.