5 children killed in house fire; cause may never be known
Citra, Florida — The state fire marshal says it’s possible they may never know what caused a Citra home to go up in flames.
Five children were killed, trapped in the burning home just before 11 p.m. Monday.
Their mother, 31-year-old Krista Jordan and grandmother, 54-year Linda Cole, escaped through a window.
It was her screams that caught the attention of her neighbor, Angela Stroud.
“The whole front of the house was engulfed in flames and I heard the mom saying, ‘My babies, my babies are inside,’” said Stroud, sobbing.
Several other neighbors also heard the cries for help and tried everything to get to the kids.
“They were screaming, banging, throwing stuff. Angela actually put her fist through one window. That’s how they got the sister out,” said neighbor Dennis Flood.
The woman they pulled out of the home was 21-year-old Kyla Cole, the aunt of the children.
She was alive, but badly burned and had to be transported to Shands Hospital in Gainesville.
“There was nothing anybody could do. We couldn’t get in the house. The flames and smoke were too bad,” said Flood.
Marion County Fire Rescue says firefighters were able to pull two girls from the home, but both died at the hospital.
Their grandfather, Robert Cole, indentifies the girls as 12-year-old Shyanne Jordan and 6-year-old Trenity Jordan.
Cole says the girls shared a room in the five bedroom house.
It was too late by the time firefighters got to their brothers. All three were dead.
Cole says the boys are 15-year-old Joseph Jordan, 13-year-old Austin Jordan and 8-year-old William Jordan.
The Marion County school district tells 10 News grief counselors have been sent to each of the three schools the children attended.
Dennis Flood shook his head in disbelief about what happened.
“They were good kids,” said Flood. “Their mother moves them. I don’t know what she’s gonna do because she lived for her children. She truly lived for her kids.”
Flood says the kids were playing with his niece in his backyard hours before the blaze. They ate apples and climbed on the trees.
“They went home around 7 p.m. and. the next thing you know, the whole house is on fire,” said Flood.
“It’s hard to comprehend they’re gone,” said the kids grandfather, Robert Cole.
“You couldn’t find five better grandkids. Five better kids,” he said.
Cole says he learned about their deaths while watching the morning news at his home in Kissimmee. Even though the names had not been released, he didn’t have to hear the names to know it was his family.
“When they said how many women were in the house and how many grandkids and the ages, I knew right then and there who it was,” he said.
Lt. Robby Stephens with the State Fire Marshal’s Office says while they cannot determine the cause of the fire at this point, there are several things it could have been. The factors include a radiator space heater the family was using to keep the house warm. It also could have been sparked by hot clothing that had been pulled from the drier. Stephens says it is possible for clothing to ignite if it does not cool off.
Other possibilities include electrical issues and smoking materials.
The fire burned so hot and so quickly, most of the evidence was destroyed.
There is one thing fire investigators do know — the home had a smoke detector, but it was not working Monday night. Lt. Stephens says this should serve as a reminder to make sure you have a smoke alarm and that it works.
You should test your smoke alarm at least twice a year. Daylight savings time is the recommended time to check.
Stephens says you should also take caution if you’re going to use a space heater and ensure it is free of dust and debris and kept at a safe distance from anything that is flammable.
The grandmother was last listed in fair condition. The aunt was last listed in critical condition at Shands Hospital.
There was no information on the mother. That could either be because she was never checked into the hospital or she asked her information not be released.
Neighbors tell 10 News the father of the kids works in Lake City during the week to support his family and only comes home on the weekends.
He was not at home at the time of the blaze.