Sixth child succumbs to injuries after deadly South Bend fire

A house fire that killed five children on Sunday in South Bend, Indiana, has claimed another life. Angel Smith, 11, died on Friday morning at Riley Children’s Health in Indianapolis, where she was being treated for severe burns.

A tragic loss for the family and the community

Angel Smith was one of the six children who were trapped by flames on the second floor of the house at 222 N. LaPorte Ave. on Sunday evening. The South Bend Fire Department said the fire was reported at 10:11 p.m. and firefighters arrived at the scene within four minutes. They found heavy smoke and fire coming from the rear of the house and heard screams from inside.

The firefighters managed to rescue Angel and her father, David Smith, who also suffered burns and smoke inhalation. The other five children, who were Angel’s siblings, were pronounced dead at the scene. They were identified as Demetis, 10, Davida, 9, Deontay, 5, D’Angelo, 4, and Faith, 17 months.

The cause and origin of the fire are still under investigation by the South Bend Fire Department and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. South Bend police are also involved to rule out foul play. The house had failed a federally mandated safety inspection in July, when a different family lived there as clients of the Housing Authority of South Bend’s Housing Choice Voucher program. The inspection report found 10 violations, including an “electrical problem throughout the entire home.”

A community in mourning and solidarity

The South Bend community reacted quickly to the tragedy, offering prayers, condolences, and support to the Smith family. A makeshift memorial of stuffed animals, balloons, candles, and flowers was set up outside the house, where people stopped by to pay their respects. A GoFundMe campaign administered by a family friend, the “Smith Family Memorial Fund” through 1st Source Bank, and a fundraiser by B100 radio were launched to raise money for David Smith and his medical and funeral expenses.

Sixth child succumbs to injuries

The Rev. Dennis Givens of New Horizons Outreach Ministry in South Bend said at a press conference on Wednesday, “We pray for every child. We pray for every family member. We pray for every friend. We pray for every neighbor. We pray for every person that has been touched by this tragedy.” He also urged the public to donate to the Smith Family Memorial Fund, saying, “We want to make sure that this father does not have to worry about anything.”

Several local organizations and businesses also stepped up to help the Smith family and the first responders who were affected by the fire. The American Red Cross provided emergency assistance and counseling. The Family & Children’s Center offered free grief counseling and trauma support. The South Bend Community School Corporation provided crisis intervention teams at the schools attended by the Smith children. The South Bend Firefighters Association and the Firefighters Foundation of St. Joseph County offered financial and emotional support to the firefighters who responded to the fire.

A call for fire safety and prevention

The South Bend fire chief, Carl Buchanon, said the fire was one of the worst he had seen in his 30-year career. He also said it was a reminder of the importance of fire safety and prevention, especially in the winter months when heating devices and candles are more likely to cause fires. He advised the public to have working smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and escape plans in their homes. He also encouraged landlords and tenants to comply with the fire codes and inspections.

The South Bend mayor, James Mueller, expressed his sorrow and sympathy for the Smith family and the community. He also praised the firefighters for their bravery and professionalism. He said, “This is a devastating tragedy for our city and a dark day for our entire community. We are grateful for the heroic efforts of our firefighters who risked their lives to save others and prevented even greater loss of life.”

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