A house fire killed five people in Oklahoma City, including four children on Wednesday morning, authorities confirmed. The fire is being blamed on a space heater that was too close to flammable material.
Officials confirmed the deaths of Jeanine Bonnet, 28; Natalie Leon, 8; Samantha Leon, 5; Matthew Zackary Leon, 5; and Kara Leon, 3. Bonnet was the mother to all four children, whom she had with Matthew Leon. The two shared custody of their children and were good friends, the kids' grandmother has said, according to NewsOK.com.
Brian Poletto, Bonnet's boyfriend, was severely burned in the fire and remains hospitalized for treatment at a local hospital. A neighbor described waking up to the chaotic scene on Wednesday.
"I heard a guy yelling, 'Help! Help!' I went over to see what was going on and helped pull the guy from the house," said Toni Wyatt, a neighbor of the family.
After pulling Poletto to safety, Wyatt ran back to her house to get blankets and call 911.
Unfortunately, by the time help arrived it was too late. None of the children, or their mother, managed to make it to safety. According to Battalion Chief Randy Cornelius, "This was an intense fire. It was pretty dangerous."
Not only did firefighters find the bodies of the children and Bonnet inside, they also located the bodies of the family's three dogs.
"When we got on scene, we had reports that there were children inside," Fire Department Maj. Tammy McKinney told the Associated Press. "The fire was so intense that we could not make entry and had to knock the fire down before we could make entry. That's when we found the bodies."
According to the Associated Press, another man inside the home, David Ruppert, managed to make it to safety. He rented a room in the Bonnet home and told the AP, "All I could see was smoke. My eyes were immediately burning. The kids didn't have a chance. If I hadn't been up (awake) already, I'd have been dead too."
Ruppert managed to escape thanks, in part, to his room being on the first floor of the home. He told authorities that the children are normally with their father but had come to their mother's home for Christmas.