FLORA, Ind. -- Fire protection gear only shields physical damage. For first responders in small communities like Flora, the emotional wear and tear cuts more easily.
That emotional toll weighed heavy Monday morning, when four young sisters were killed in a house fire on E. Columbia Street.
The girls were Keyana, 11, Keyara, 8, Kerrielle, 7, and Kionne, 5. The children's mother, Gaylin Rose, was injured in the fire and airlifted from the scene.
With a population just over 2,000, Flora is a tight-knit community. Everyone knows everyone, and while Monday's tragedy cuts deep for the whole town, emergency crews took the brunt of it.
Members of the Flora fire department were removed from the scene on Monday.
The Department of Homeland Security brought in counselors to talk to the first responders who were there.
“I’ve been doing this for 29 years, it doesn’t get any easier,” said Flora Fire Department’s Assistant Fire Chief Todd Trent. “It does hurt. And the only way the hurt goes away is time.”
People stopped by the home throughout the day on Monday to leave stuffed animals and balloons.
First responders gathered Monday evening to talk about the loss of the four young girls, members of their community, just days before Thanksgiving.
“We’re human too, we don’t wear a cape,” said Trent. “We deal with emergencies and we meet people in their worst moments.”
And he says he carries those moments with him for days, and sometimes years.
“They did their best, to their potential and beyond. We can walk away from this thing and say that we did our best and the outcome is the outcome and I’m sorry for the family,” said Trent.
A cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but foul play is not suspected.