A Massachusetts man who had escaped a house fire ran back into the burning building to save his two young children, but all three died.
The tragic scene unfolded in Springfield at about 7:25 a.m. Sunday morning, when a fire broke out in a four-story apartment building on Belmont Avenue, the Boston Globe reports.
Springfield’s fire commissioner Bernard Calvi told reporters in a news conference that the building did not have sprinklers or smoke alarms in the hallways. Investigators are reportedly still working to determine if all units had functional smoke alarms.
The father had reportedly fled the building before he realized that his two children under the age of five were still inside. He went back in to the burning building in an attempt to save them, but none of them made it out.
The family has not been identified. The deceased man’s wife and a third child both survived, though the woman appears to have been seriously injured.
“She’s not feeling good .. but she’s alive,” a family friend told the Boston Globe.
Another woman, who is four months pregnant, was injured after she jumped out a second-story window to escape the flames.
At least two other people are reportedly being treated for injuries, and witnesses told the newspaper they saw multiple people jump out of windows.
Neighbor Jermaine Watt saw the fire take hold of the building and reportedly took video of people jumping.
“First it was smoke, and then it was just like . . . fire,” Watt said.
“You could tell that it was starting to spread because it started to come out of the other side of the building … You could tell it was catching.”
Massachusetts State Police and the Springfield arson and bomb unit are investigating the source of the deadly fire, according to the newspaper.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno told the Boston Globe that many of the residents in the building were Somali natives, and suggested that this may have somehow played a role in the deadly blaze.
“Many a times when there are cultural differences, sometimes, people might not adhere to the smoke detectors’ alarms going off,” he said. “It’s a tragic situation.”
It is unclear if the mayor was aware at the time of that statement that the building did not have smoke alarms in the hallway, or that investigators had not confirmed that there were working smoke alarms in every unit.
CrimeOnline contacted Mayor Sarno’s office for further clarification of his comments and is awaiting a response.
According to the New York Post, the father who died with his children in the blaze moved to the U.S. from Somalia in 2005. His nephew, Omar Hussein reportedly stood outside the fire-damaged building in shock on Sunday afternoon.
“I feel bad,” he said. “I feel bad.”