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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Fire kills 5 children in Florida home

    CITRA, Fla. — Investigators have not been able to determine the exact cause of the fire that killed five children and injured three adults overnight in the Marion County community of Citra.

    State Fire Marshal Lt. Robby Stephens said the fire possibly ignited in the front part of the living room porch near a radiator-type electrical heater and a basket of clothing. However, the age of the home’s wooden frame and faulty electrical wiring could also have been a factor.

    “”There are too many factors to make a specific determination as to the cause,”” Stephens said. “”There is not a lot left to help put the pieces back into the jigsaw.””

    Stephens explained that the home’s decomposed wood helped advance the pace of the fire.

    “”This thing went fast, it was quick enough to where neighbors reacted almost immediately,”” Stephens said but the family was “”almost in an impossible situation.””

    The children were found in various rooms inside the structure and the arrangement of furniture likely contributed to their entrapment, he said. A smoke detector was found but it wasn’t working.

    “”It’s an absolute tragedy. It’s unbelievable to have this many deaths in one fire, an entire family,”” Stephens said Tuesday.

    Robert Cole of Kissimmee, Fla., on Tuesday imagined his grandchildren playing ball in the front yard of his daughter’s home because he will never see them again.

    All five children — three boys and two girls — died in the house fire.

    “”I lost my whole family in one lick,”” said Cole, whose ex-wife and two daughters were also injured in the blaze. He last saw the children during Christmas Eve last year, calling them decent, fun-loving children who like others their age, complained occasionally.

    “”I didn’t think it would be me,”” Cole said as he watched television news Tuesday morning about the fatal fire. “”As soon as I heard, I rushed up here.””

    The children, ages 6 to 15, were living with their mother, grandmother, and aunt. The children were asleep when their 21-year-old aunt was first alerted to the fire, said Marion County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Miranda Iglesias.

    The children’s aunt, Kyla Cole, was in critical condition after being pulled out by neighbors and airlifted to Shands Hospital in Gainesville with second-degree burns.

    Rescue crews took the children’s 54-year-old grandmother, Linda, and 31-year-old mother, Kristen Cole, to Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala.

    Iglesias said the mother and grandmother got out of the burning home before Cole but all three adults were conscious when they were rescued.

    The condition of the survivors was not available.

    The family was asleep when the fire started, Iglesias said. The three boys — 15-year-old Joseph Jordan, Austin Jordan, 13; and William Jordan III, 8 — all died in the fire.

    The two girls — Shyanne Jordan, 12, and Trenity Jordan, 6 — were pulled out through a window by firefighters but died as they were being taken to the hospital, Iglesias said.

    The family’s three dogs also died inside the home.

    Dennis Flood, who lives in a 40-foot Winnebago adjacent to the home, said he was watching wrestling on the television when he heard crackling outside.

    Thinking it was a tree that was falling, Flood peered out his window only to find the front of his neighbor’s home on fire.

    He said he woke neighbors but the heat and smoke was so overwhelming it was difficult to move closer and try to rescue the family.

    “”We were screaming their names but we couldn’t find the kids,”” Flood said, adding the family had moved into the home a few years ago.

    “”It all happened so quick,”” he said, adding he has seven children between he and his wife. “” … How am I going to tell my children their best friends are dead?””

    As soon as Flood heard a space heater may have caused the blaze, he brought out his heater and said it was going to the trash.

    Fire Rescue officials said the blaze in the 1,400 square-foot wooden house started around 10:30 p.m. EST Monday. When firefighters arrived, the structure had been burning for a while and was almost completely engulfed in flames.

    Little was left for investigators to dig through except charred wooden debris. Ashes blew into the wind as they dug into them looking for clues at the rural home just off U.S. Highway 301. It lies along a unpaved, sandy road bordered by horse ranches and mobile homes.

    Iglesias said it took five engines five minutes to arrive to the burning home. Some witnesses say it took longer.

    Flood said the family recently celebrated Joseph’s 15th birthday with cake, ice cream and a family fishing trip.

    Lane Hatcher, a 13-year-old friend of the Jordan children, stared blankly at the scorched back room where a blackened chair was left behind — one of the few things remaining intact inside the home.

    His eyes betrayed the strength he was trying to muster as he described the games he used to play with his neighbors.

    “”This is going to devastate my children,”” said Lane’s mother, Jennifer Hatcher. “”I don’t know how to console them.””

    Danielle Coffey lives nearby and said it’s been difficult for her children to comprehend their playmates are gone.

    “”They keep crying and asking me about where they are with questions like ‘Are they going to heaven, mommy?'”” she said. “”I don’t know how to answer them.””

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