A 4-year-old child died after a house caught fire early Wednesday morning in Pocahontas.
The fire also sent five other family members, including two toddlers, to the hospital with serious injuries.
The mother and father, whose names have not yet been released, were both released from the hospital Wednesday. The condition of the children — a 12-year-old boy and two 15-month-old toddlers — was not released as of Wednesday evening.
Pocahontas-Old Ripley Fire Department Chief Dennis Lindley said they received a call about the fire at 2:20 a.m. When they arrived, crews saw the family sitting at the church next to their home — with the house engulfed in flames.
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“There were flames blowing out the windows,” Lindley said.
The surviving family members suffered serious injuries, Highland EMS Chief Brian Wilson said.
Lindley would not comment on the death of the child, but Bond County Coroner Anthony Brooks said he will perform an autopsy on the 4-year-old child Thursday.
A 15-month-old was immediately flown by helicopter to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. The mother of the children was immediately flown by another helicopter to Mercy Hospital in St. Louis.
A 12-year-old and another 15-month-old were taken to the emergency room at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland before being transferred to Cardinal Glennon — the child was transferred by ambulance and the baby was transferred by helicopter.
“Anytime that you have a significant smoke inhalation from a house fire, there’s also a chance for thermal burns to the airway that may not show up right away,” Wilson said. “We take those very seriously and hope for the best.”
Lindley said shortly after crews arrived at the home, located at 508 Academy St., flames started to catch on the left side of a neighboring house.
“We were able to quickly knock that down,” Lindley said.
Lindley said there was no interior damage to the second house that caught fire, only some damage to that house’s windows and siding.
The chief noted the fire was so hot that the church located on the right side of the house was damaged from radiant heat.
Fire crews were on the scene until about 6 a.m.
The cause of the fire was being investigated by an Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office investigator. They were still at the home as of 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.
A critical-stress debriefing was to be made available for all firefighters and EMS workers, according to Lindley.
The Highland Fire and EMS Department, Highland-Pierron Fire Department, Bond County EMS, Greenville Fire Department, Keyesport Fire Department and Shoal Creek Fire Department were all called for mutual aid. At one time Lindley said there were roughly 35 emergency workers on scene.