CLAY COUNTY — Two young girls were killed in a mobile home fire Wednesday night near Brazil, authorities say.
The Clay County Coroner says 3-year-old Athena Holdbrook and 3-month-old Aries Romine died in the fire, which happened at North View Country Estates in the 3800 block of West State Road 340.
The Clay County Sheriff's Office said Friday that several attempts were made to rescue the children, but the flames were too intense and heavy flames and smoke "consumed" the home.
Both children were pronounced dead at the scene and died from smoke inhalation, according to the coroner. The manner of death is still under investigation.
Deputies say no adults were home at the time of the fire. Romine's father was at work and the mother of both children was at a neighbor's house.
The Indiana State Fire Marshal has preliminarily determined the cause of the fire was an electrical issue, potentially an electrical power strip.
It is not believed that any foul play or accelerants were used to start or enhance the fire.
Neighbor Michael Roberts Muhammad told The Associated Press he was with the family in the afternoon and ran to the home when he heard shouting.
“Tried to go into the front door, but the heat was so overwhelming, and the smoke was so overwhelming. It was like I was being pushed back out. I tried to go back in twice, but I couldn’t get in. I couldn’t do anything but fall on my knees and pray,” Muhammad said.
“It was horrifying to watch," neighbor Leeann Chandler added, "knowing they were still in there and there was nothing we could do.”
The State Fire Marshal's Office and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office are investigating. Once the investigation is complete, a full report will be forwarded to the Clay County Prosecutor’s Office for further review.
Anyone with more information may contact the Clay County Sheriff's Department at 812-446-2535 or 812-448-9078.