Chattanooga child dies in fire, another in critical condition - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga child dies in fire, another in critical condition

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - The fire that claimed the life of a Chattanooga child, started just before 10 a.m. on Rawlings Street. The children's mother, neighbors and police officers all tried to get to the children, but there were several obstacles.

Fire investigators are still working to determine the cause. They say they're not clear on if the mom was inside or out when the fire started, but say her burns and smoke inhalation are proof she tried to tried to save her two infant children, but just couldn't.

"My babies, like, please get my babies, so we took off running to the house," witness Rodney Harris said.

Harris was one of the first to run over. He says the mom, Shondell Jackson, was burned on her face and arm and was struggling to breathe. She was crying for help to get her two infant children out of their burning home.

"You can hear the babies just crying, saying help and stuff like that," Harris said.

He says the front door was blocked by a wall of flames.

"That could've been my little girl so I was just trying my best to get in there and get them babies," Harris said.

Security bars covered the windows and the heat morphed the back metal door, so it wouldn't open.

"We just started breaking all the windows out and by then the fire had reached the back of the house," Harris said.

"The mother was running around trying to bust the windows out herself trying to help, but she couldn't do it you know," witness Derrick McDuffy said.

Around a dozen neighbors jumped in to help the pleading mom.

"Everybody really was running around here frantic trying to help her but we couldn't do it ourselves," McDuffy said.

Police officers were first on the scene, but the same obstacles blocked them from getting in too. Within a few minutes, firefighters were there and forced their way through some damaged security bars.  

"They didn't even have the hose with them, they were going in to try to find the victims and made their way inside," Chattanooga Fire Department Spokesperson Bruce Garner said.

Firefighter's thermal imaging cameras couldn't help, because the heat was too intense, so Captain Dean Rogers used his hands, found one child on the floor near the kitchen and carried him out. When he went back in, he found the other child in the bedroom.

The second child could not be resuscitated and was pronounced dead on the scene..

"When they got here, they ran in immediately, but I guess it was one second too late," McDuffy said.

Neighbors say their hearts are broken for the mom.

"I just want to give her a big hug and tell her she tried and she can't just put that on her conscience," Harris said.

The names of the boys are being withheld pending investigation.

The surviving child was flown to a burn center in Augusta, Georgia and is listed in critical condition. Jackson was treated for burns and smoke inhalation and released.

She is now with her son in Augusta.

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