Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Three Die in Apartment Fire ; Toddler among Victims, Eight Others Injured; Arson Suspected

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Three Die in Apartment Fire ; Toddler among Victims, Eight Others Injured; Arson Suspected

Article excerpt

A West Franklin Street apartment fire that took the lives of a toddler and two adults and injured eight others Monday afternoon may have been intentionally set, investigators say. Police quickly detained a man described as a "person of interest" in connection with the fatal fire, but had not officially charged or arrested him by 10 p.m. Monday.

The names or ages of those killed or injured in the fire at 29 W. Franklin St. were not released Monday evening.

Four of the injured were residents at the two-story house, which had been converted to five apartments.

All were taken initially to nearby Deaconess Hospital, and two were transported later in the evening by helicopter to the Wishard Memorial Hospital Burn Center in Indianapolis.

According to Evansville Police Department spokesman Sgt. Jason Cullum, all four are expected to survive.

The other four injured were Evansville firefighters who suffered minor burns as they made an "aggressive interior attack" to bring the fire under control, according to Evansville Fire Department spokesman Bruce Woodward.

The fire was concentrated in the second floor of the wood-frame building. The three deceased were found in one of the two upstairs apartments.

Vanderburgh County Deputy Coroner Steve Lockyear said positive identification of the three killed may require the use of dental records, fingerprinting or DNA to confirm. Autopsies are scheduled for noon Tuesday.

"This is such a tragic situation," Lockyear said.

The four residents who were injured reportedly jumped from a second-floor window to the ground to escape the rapidly spreading fire and thick smoke.

One of the residents who jumped appeared to have broken his leg in the fall. Evansville police officer Nathan Hassler used a knife to cut the pants off the man as he lay screaming in pain on the ground across the street from the burning home. …

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