BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) A house fire in Bedford killed a four-year-old girl and sent three others to the hospital early Tuesday morning. The surviving victims are expected to be OK.
The home is on the 700 block of Grove Street, which is close to Bedford Middle School. The call came in at 4:56 a.m. The fire marshal says it was the Brooks' teenage daughter who called 911 before dawn Tuesday morning. The house she lives in with her parents and five siblings quickly filled with smoke.
"Mom says that she was awakened by the dog barking, the daughter says it was her normal time to wake up for school at about five o'clock," Bedford County Fire Marshal Jeff Pauley said.
When crews arrived they found flames coming from the back of the house. Two adults and six children were inside, ranging in age from 5 months old to age 17.
At this point, there is no sign of this being anything other than an accident. Initial evidence points to the fire starting in a space above the first floor laundry room around back of the house.
"We still have a few loose ends to wrap up until we can definitively say what the origin and cause of the fire is," Pauley said.
Some were able to evacuate on their own, but a man and three young girls had to be rescued.
One of those girls, a 4-year-old, died en route to a hospital.
The man and the two other children were sent to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. All three are in medically induced comas.
Family friends, church leaders, and police have identified the man as Mike Brooks. A hospital representative says he is in critical condition. He was discharged from Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital and sent to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
Bedford Police officers were the first on scene running straight into the house.
"They pulled the father who was at the top of the stairs down and one of the children, everybody did a wonderful job, everybody stepped up and did what needed to be done it was unfortunate but it could've been worse," Pauley said.
Lieutenant Shannon Walker with the Bedford Police Department says, "Any fire in itself is a tragedy but when you add all this together it just compounds the issues, especially with it being a juvenile."
Bedford County Fire Marshal Jeff Pauley told WDBJ7 that it's too early to determine a cause for the fire. He says the home's construction initially made it difficult for crews to extinguish the flames.The fire has since been contained.
Pauley says, "It was chopped up. There were some false ceilings and multiple roof layers, so it was very difficult for them especially at the back of the house."
Police say the mother of the child who died was not injured. Friends, church leaders and police tell us her name is Tahlia Brooks.
The American Red Cross is helping the family.
Tuesday we reported there were no working smoke detectors in the house. The mom disputes that, telling investigators there was one inside. But crews haven't found any evidence of that.
We expect to learn more from the investigators about the cause of the fire Wednesday.