Three kids die in makeshift heater explosion after landlord shuts off heat during polar vortex
Three young children died in a fire as a result of a landlord shutting off the electric and gas service to a house in Hammond, Indiana.
Last week, Andre Young and his family were struggling to keep warm during what meteorologists called “the polar vortex.” According to a neighbor, conditions in the Young house had been “dire” for months, but as the temperature dropped, the family had no choice but to resort to extreme measures.
According to authorities, the fire was caused by a space heater connected to a propane tank.
City records indicate that Real Estate Equity Solutions of Indiana, LLC had turned off electric and gas service to the property months ago, and had been fined $2,600 for doing so. The company was also being investigated for refusing to allow inspectors on to the property.
“We were a week away from getting an order from the court so we could go in,” City Attorney Kristina Kantar told The Chicago Tribune. “Obviously, if our inspectors found people living there without water or power or heat, we would not let them stay there.”
Witnesses claim that after the fire started, Andre Young ran back into the flaming structure, yelling “Everybody get out! Get out! My babies! My babies!” He was able to save two of his children, but three others died in the fire.
Two of the children were found five feet from the door, holding on to each other. “That broke my heart,” Hammond Fire Inspector Michael Opinker said.
“There was so much fuel for the fire to do what it did,” he continued.
“These kids had no chance.”
Watch the entire report from WGN below.