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'It's like starting over': Community supports family, remembers three kids killed in house fire

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Posted at 8:35 PM, Feb 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 14:30:22-05

MIAMI COUNTY — A community is reeling after tragedy claimed the lives of three children this weekend in a Miami County house fire.

Miracle Gingerich, 6, Steven Gingerich, 5, and Wilma Gingerich, 18 months, died after the fire, Indiana State Police Sgt. Tony Slocum said. Their mother, Laura, survived.

The fire rekindled early Sunday morning and the house was deemed a total loss. By Sunday afternoon, the house was demolished.

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The family's pastor, Marlin Beachy, said his family was close with the children, their mother, and grandparents. He said the children came to Sunday School and his two daughters babysat them.

“They were typical children and they essentially had their lives taken away from them and they lost their lives at this point," Beachy said. "And I think what the family would desire for people to know, is that even through the difficult circumstance like this, and this is an unusual family because they have experienced tragedy before in two prior incidents. And you can get the idea of why me, but we are very much people of faith and we believe that God has a plan. The family firmly believes that and they will continue in faith. They will continue to trust God.”

Beachy said the family experienced sudden and unexpected loss of family members before.

Miracle, Steven, and Wilma were fun, loving kids, Beachy said.

"Typically mischievous and like any other child, they did their thing," he said. "We just had a heart for them."

He said it's incredible to see and the family is very thankful for the outpouring of community support.

"It's like starting over again for them," Beachy said.

MORE INFO | Here's how you can help the family

Miracle and Steven were students at Pipe Creek Elementary School, according to the Maconaquah School Corporation. They are being remembered for their "contagious smiles and a bubbly energy."

"My heart and the hearts of Pipe Creek and Maconaquah staff are absolutely broken over this devastating loss," Pipe Creek Elementary School Principal Laura Fulton said in a Facebook post. "We send our deepest thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the Gingerich children.”

Counselors will be available for all students and staff next week, according to the post.

It was an emotional scene Sunday morning as firefighters and crews were demolishing the house after it rekindled and was deemed a total loss.

Among the rubble, a swing, mailbox, and a basketball hoop.

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The house where three children died on Saturday rekindled in the early morning hours of Sunday, February 28, 2021. The house is a total loss and is being demolished.

The firefighters at the scene were reeling with the emotional toll of what happened. Several of them spoke with WRTV off-camera, sometimes through tears, about how hard this weekend has been for them.

One of the firefighters said no matter how long he has been doing this, it never gets easier, especially at scenes like this.

Indiana State Police troopers, Miami County Sheriff's Office deputies, all tried to help rescue the kids when they arrived but weren't able to because of the smoke.

As volunteer firefighters arrived, they were able to make a quick recovery of the children, Slocum said. Everyone worked together to provide CPR and medical aid to the children.

"Anytime officers respond to a scene like this, obviously they want to help, just like anyone else and any of the first responders," Slocum said. "But when it involves children, it amps things up just a little bit more. And everybody at that scene, to include our troopers and all of the first responders, were trying to get these young people to the hospital as quickly as they could, hoping to save their lives."

Law enforcement officers, including Indiana State Police troopers, work together throughout the entire state, but even more so in areas with volunteer fire departments.

"We all live in these communities," Slocum said. "Unfortunately some of the first responders yesterday actually knew this family. They have a relationship with them and that makes us want to do an even better job."

Indiana State Police is offering their condolences to the family and first responders who were at the scene.

"Our troopers that responded along with other first responders, they're taking this pretty hard," Slocum said. "They wanted to do everything they could to rescue those young people and it wasn't in the cards yesterday. Know when you call 911, we're still going to show up, we're still going to give our best efforts, but we're going to do it with a little heavier heart than maybe we did a couple of days ago."