Three young children were killed after they became trapped on the upstairs floor of an apartment during a fire that broke out just minutes before Christmas Eve in northwest Indiana.
The Gary Fire Department said the fire was reported just after 11:30 p.m. Friday at the Oak Knoll Apartments in the 4400 block of West 23rd Court.
Three children, all under the age of six, were killed in the blaze. They were upstairs when the fire broke out.
"It's terrible," said neighbor Diamond Childress. "I just can't get their screams out of my head."
The Lake County Coroner identified the children as 5-year-old Jayden Mitchell and 4-year-old Alaya Pickens. A 2-year-old girl was also killed but her identity had not been released as of Saturday morning.
The children’s mother and a man were both taken to area hospitals. Their conditions were not immediately known.
The fire impacted just one unit in the complex and continued into Christmas Eve before being put out around 1:45 a.m., officials said. Firefighters said slick conditions made it more difficult to fight the blaze.
"Christmas Eve, are you kidding me? Today is Dec. 24, that’s the most heartbreaking thing in the world," said neighbor Jamisha Powe. "I could never and don’t want to ever imagine going through that."
The cause of the fire was not immediately known.