‘Doesn’t feel real:’ 3 children dead after house fire in Concord

CONCORD, N.C. — An early morning house fire in Concord killed three children on Sunday, the Concord Fire Department confirmed.

Just after 1 a.m. Sunday, the Concord Fire responded to a fire at a one-story housing duplex on Lincoln Street Southwest.

Firefighters said they battled a heavy fire for approximately 10 minutes, extinguishing it while searching the house.

“Within five minutes of arrival the first victim was located and removed from the apartment, two additional victims were located, all of the victims were removed within 11 minutes of the Fire Department arrival,” Chief Jake Williams said.

Three children were found inside the house, and firefighters began CPR until Cabarrus County EMS arrived. An 11-year-old girl and her 15-year-old brother died in the fire. Their 16-year-old sister died later at the hospital.

The parents were not home, and no other people were found inside. Firefighters were able to control the fire before it spread to surrounding houses, but one other home did sustain heat and water damage.

Channel 9′s Glenn Counts spoke to a neighbor who knew the children.

“Their smile, they were happy all the time, I never seen one of them get disgusted about anything. When you see them they were speaking and you were gonna be happy when you seen them, we lost some good ones,” Bobby Mobley said.

Ruby Camacho, a friend of the victim, said the events still don’t feel real.

“It doesn’t feel real, it feels like a dream or something,” Camacho said.

The American Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents in the damaged homes.

The duplex is owned by the City of Concord. The fire department said the last time the smoke detector was inspected was in January and it was working.

Leobarda Herrera watched the tragedy unfold from her house across the street. She told Channel 9′s Hannah Goetz it feels horrible because the images from SUnday come back to her mind whenever she looks to the other side of the street.

Herrera and Johnny Grady, who lives a few homes down, knew the kids. Grady says they used to play with his daughter.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Grady told Goetz. “I got upset about it, but I pray to the Lord if I knew that I would have went in there.”

Several neighbors told Channel 9 they were concerned that a lingering road closure that might have affected the response time. A bridge that goes over Irish Buffalo Creek has been closed for about a year, but a spokesperson with the city of Concord told Channel 9 that the bridge closure didn’t impact response times.

It was the first fire with multiple deaths in Concord in the last 15 years. Concord Fire and State Fire Marshals are still investigating the cause of the fire.

Cabarrus County Schools confirmed to Channel 9 that all three kids attended the district. Counselors will be at the schools to support students and staff.

This is an ongoing investigation; check wsoctv.com for updates.

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