Two children killed in Burke County house fire that started in - | WBTV Charlotte

Two children killed in Burke Co. house fire that started in living room and spread.

Courtesy: Astrid Martinez Courtesy: Astrid Martinez
Courtesy: Astrid Martinez Courtesy: Astrid Martinez

Investigators say an early morning house fire that killed two children, ages 6 and 11, started in the living room area. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Eight relatives were able to escape. Firefighters say family members tried to go back into the house to rescue the children but they couldn't withstand the flames, smoke and heat to find the kids.

Fire Marshall Long says "they were found in the bedroom. One bedroom door was open. One bedroom door was closed."

Even firefighters couldn't get in to the burning house. At one point a section of the roof over the living room collapsed.

They say the severity of the flames prevented them from gaining entry into the bedroom where the children were found.

The chief of the George Hildebran Fire Department tells WBTV all of the doors and windows of the house on Old Laurel Road were engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived on the scene around 3:15 Thursday morning.

The children's grandfather, Charlie Suderno, wanted to go in and get the children.

"They tried to get out but didn't make it," Suderno said. "I just pray that there was no suffering and it went quick."

Suderno says the house was his son and daughter-in-law's "first place. This was their dream house. They were so proud of the place."

Firefighter Shane Bowman tells WBTV a state trooper and several firefighters made numerous attempts to get into the house while the remaining people, including the two children, were still inside.

That trooper, Greg Gentieu, was working in the area when he saw flames from a distance. His supervisor says Trooper Gentieu rushed to the scene and came upon the house on fire.

He called for backup, then went through a window - but the heat, smoke and darkness blocked him. He tried again - and again the fire prevailed.

Once the fire was put under control, firefighters say they found the children deceased on the floor of their bedroom.

"Our training keeps us from putting ourselves in danger when it's not a viable victim and with the amount of fire damage that we had and the amount of fire we had in the structure at the time, there was no possible way for crews to make entry," firefighter Bowman said.

Bowman said the state trooper who attempted to rescue the victims was treated for smoke inhalation.

Investigators say they don't know if there were any smoke detectors in the house. They say they didn't find any - but it's possible they were there but the fire melted them.

"We have heavy fire damage in the living room, kitchen area, down the hallway" says Burke County Fire Marshall Mike Long. "We have heavy smoke damage in one bedroom where the 15 year old was that crawled out the window to get out. We have heavy fire damage in one of the child's bedroom who died in the fire. The other bedroom has heavy smoke."

Family members who lived in the house with the children were also treated and released from a local hospital.

The Red Cross is helping the family with shelter and assistance.

Late Thursday afternoon, parents of children who were friends with the victims stopped by the fire scene.

"I just hate it for his family, said parent Erica Lowman. "I couldn't imagine losing two kids - must less one."

Lowman says her son, Chase,  was friends with the 11 year old who died.

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