PENSACOLA (WEAR-TV) — A house fire on N Baylen Street and W Scott Street claimed the lives of four children early Thursday morning.
The victims were 11-year-old Michael, 5-year-old Jeremy, a 3-year-old girl, and an 11-month-old girl. The mother, Curtisa Johnson, and her 15-year-old daughter, Lakeisha King, escaped without injury.
The family also lost a dog in the fire.
Officials said the fire started in the front of the house around 5:30am. When crews arrived, flames were shooting through almost every window.
Fire crews found the four children in the back bedroom.
Firefighters were able to enter the house through only one window that didn't have fire.
The kids were found and immediately pulled out through the window. EMS tried to resuscitate all of them.
The mother's sister, Shrell Gray, was at the scene Thursday morning. She said she received the call about the fire Thursday morning when she was getting ready to take her children to school.
Gray said she was on her way when she heard the tragic news.
"My niece called me and said everyone got out, and then I got about halfway there, and I found out they were gone," Gray said.
Fire crews responded to the fire at 5:37 a.m. Thursday. Flames started toward the front of the home, but the cause of the fire has not been released.
Gray said she thinks the fire was caused by the family's water heater because it caught on fire last night, but fire officials have not yet confirmed that.
"She called and told me it was on fire," Gray said. "But they put it out. She told me last night she was scared to go to sleep."
Officials said no working smoke detectors were found in the home. The State Fire Marshal is investigating.
Escambia County Fire Chief, Curt Isakson said, "Smoke detectors are critical. That's the first defense to notify occupants that there is a fire to get out. In 2016, fires have grown faster than ever in history."
Chief Isakson said more than 400 people have died this year from house fires nation wide. Now four more have been added to that number.
The American Red Cross is assisting the family.
Gray said she loved the children and she was their favorite "auntie."
"Well, my nephew, Mikey, he's just an awesome 12-year-old boy, my nephew Jeremy, my little woowoo, my June, she was a little girl, and my baby, her birthday was Saturday. I came over yesterday to see them, they told me bye, they was happy I just can't believe this happened," she said.
Gray said she didn't go a day without seeing her sister and her kids. "I was there every day," she said. "I was there every day. And I was there for all their births. I was there every day."
Both the boys, Michael and Jeremy, go to OJ Semmes Elementary. The school district said grief counselors will be at the school today.
The 15-year-daughter who survived goes to Pensacola High School.
It was a devastating morning for the family and even the firefighters.
Fire crews are used to working fires, but finding four victims, especially children, is very troubling for our first responders.
Chief Isakson said the fire took an emotional toll on his firefighters.
The fire crews took an extreme risk during the house fire, because they wanted to get the children out alive. They weren't able to do that and said it's the type of thing they'll never get over.
Thursday morning's fire will stick with them their whole career.