August 10, 2006 - Posted at 6:23 p.m. CDT
STEELE, MO -- Tragedy struck Thursday morning in the small Bootheel town of Steele. An early morning fire claimed the lives of five young children trapped upstairs in their home.
It's a wake up call no neighbor wants to receive.
"All I heard was that there was a house on fire and there are some kids in there burning," said stunned neighbor Lakisha Jacobs.
Trapped inside the second floor of the burning house were 7-year-old Antonio Amerson, 5-year-old Jerome Finley, Jr., 3-year-old Destiny Kinnon, 2-year-old Malik Marquan Amerson and 1-year-old Shayla Adriana Amerson.
"When I walked out the door, flames were just at the door, and there was smoke upstairs. When the fire truck got there, it was all blazed in with smoke and fire," said Jacobs.
"The flames were so intense that they couldn't get in the house to get anyone out," said Steele Police Chief Michael Tomlinson.
According to officials the home on North First Street is a total loss and was so ravaged by flames that the cause of the fire is still undetermined.
"It's just hard to believe it happened because it happened so quickly," said Jacobs quietly.
According to police, 18 people were inside the home when it went up in flames at 4:15 a.m. One of things that could have possibly prevented the deaths of the children was a smoke detector....there were none inside the home.
"It's bad when it is just one person, but it is a terrible tragedy when it is five young children...it's heartbreaking," said Tomlinson.
The children's mother, Keisha Kinnon, was treated and released from a local hospital and at least two others were injured and taken to hospitals in Memphis.