Christian father loses 5 of his children in South Bend house fire

The house at 222 North LaPorte Ave in South Bend, Ind., where five children died in a fire on Sunday January 21, 2024.
The house at 222 North LaPorte Ave in South Bend, Ind., where five children died in a fire on Sunday January 21, 2024. | YouTube/ CBS Chicago

A Christian father from South Bend, Indiana, was left in shock after five of his six children died after a massive blaze erupted at his home on Sunday evening.

“I went and found him at the hospital, and he was in shock,” Elijah Leciano, a neighbor and friend, told CBS Chicago. “When I went with him to identify his children, which is hard, prayed over them and just told him, ‘If you need something, call me.’”

A statement from the South Bend Fire Department Monday said they received calls about a residential fire at 222 North LaPorte Ave. in the “early evening hours” on Sunday. When firefighters got to the home, flames had already engulfed both the first and second floors.

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“[Firefighters] successfully managed to suppress a significant portion of the fire on the first floor before moving to the second floor, where multiple victims were reported to be trapped,” the statement said.

They were able to rescue two individuals but not the five children.

The destroyed house at 222 North LaPorte Ave. in South Bend, Indiana.
The destroyed house at 222 North LaPorte Ave. in South Bend, Indiana. | Screengrab/YouTube/CBS Chicago

“In total, six victims were extracted from the fire. Tragically, five of these individuals, all children, would later be pronounced deceased. One survivor was urgently transported to Memorial Hospital and later airlifted to a specialized pediatric burn center in Indianapolis for further treatment,” the statement said.

Fire Chief Carl Buchanon said at a press conference Monday that Smith’s children ranged in age from 17 months to 11 years old. The 11 year old is hospitalized.

An adult in the home also reportedly escaped the fire with minor injuries, while a firefighter was treated at a hospital and released after he fell through the second floor, Buchanon said.

Though the names of the children have not been released by authorities, Leciano identified the deceased children in a GoFundMe campaign as Daveta, Demetris, Dean Tey, Deangelo, and Faith Smith. Their father is identified as David Smith who Leciano calls “my brother in Christ.”

“Hello friends and family, I'm reaching out this afternoon to ask for your support for my brother in Christ, David Smith. He has lost the most valuable thing any of us could. His children due to a tragedy no one would expect,” Leciano wrote in the campaign seeking to raise $30,000.

The child who is hospitalized was identified as Angel Smith.

“Our hope is to raise enough money to put his babies to rest in a beautiful place. Also to eliminate any medical bills that will arise out of the treatment Angel Smith will receive and any future surger[ies] she [may] need to aid in her recovery from severe burns,” Leciano said. “Please find it in your hearts to help, if possible, David needs [c]lothes, shoes, hygienes (sic), a new vehicle because his truck was lost due to the fire as well. He is in need of a huge blessing, be that blessing today and donate.”

While the cause of the fire is still being investigated Buchanon urged locals in need of a smoke alarm to contact the Red Cross to get the devices for free.

“As we mourn the lives lost, we also extend our deepest sympathies to the families affected by this tragedy. The South Bend Fire Department is committed to providing support to these families during this difficult time and is working closely with local & State authorities to investigate the cause of the fire,” the statement from the South Bend Fire Department said.

“Fire Chief Buchanon urges the community to join us in honoring the memory of the young lives lost and in recognizing the heroic efforts of our firefighters who, without hesitation, risked everything in their attempt to save South Bend's own. Fire Chief Carl Buchanon would like to remind all residents to test their smoke alarms. The department collaborates closely with the American Red Cross installing free smoke alarms to the residents of South Bend.”

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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