Three young children were found dead Sunday after a fire engulfed an outbuilding and eventually a home in Crescent.
Just before noon, the Crescent Fire Department responded to the fire at 304 S Oak. The house was engulfed in flames, firefighters said, and officials initially were unable to enter the residence.
Dylan Murch, a musician who lives next door, was painting a shed in his back yard shortly after 11:50 a.m. when he heard a scream for help. By the time he’d run out to the front of his home, he realized his neighbor’s house was on fire.
“I immediately pulled my phone out and dialed 911,” Murch said. “I ran over there toward the mother, and she was down on her knees in her front yard, screaming and yelling. I heard her say, ‘My baby’s in there! My baby’s in there!’ I was terrified, and I didn’t know what to do. You feel helpless, because you want to cry for the family and there’s nothing else you really can do.”
Murch, who has spent most of his 25 years living on the block, said the previous owners of the house had lived there for 30 years and had used a shed on the property as a cake shop.
“That little building was completely covered in flames,” Murch said. “Smoke was rising in the air as far as you could see, and that fire had escalated and had gotten onto the main home.”
After a nearly two-hour battle to extinguish the blaze, firefighters found two children dead inside the remains of the shed. When investigators with the state fire marshal arrived, local authorities turned the case over to them, after which fire marshals found the body of a third child in the rubble.
Fire Chief Grady Birchfield said the identities of the children were not available, but he said all three were under 5 years old.
“It’s never easy when kids are involved,” Birchfield said. “And we've had our fair share of tragic situations, so it's going to be a case where we need to stick together and take it day by day.”
It’s unclear whether the mother of the children was in the home when the fire started. Uninjured, she was taken to nearby First Baptist Church, whose main Sunday service was just ending.
“She was absolutely devastated,” Pastor Paul Montgomery said. “She was inconsolable, but I and several other church members prayed over her and prayed for her. It happened right down the street from the church, so as the dust was settling, we brought her down to the church so she’d be a little bit more comfortable and not just right there in the midst of it.”
The mother was not a member of the congregation, and Montgomery said he had not met her beforehand, but the church did its best to comfort her.
“Sunday evening, I don’t know where she and the rest of her family went, but we did tell them, ‘Hey, we’re here if there’s anything you need,’” Montgomery said. “This is a small community here, and we love the Lord and love each other.”
The state fire marshal's office is investigating the cause of the fire. Authorities said the home will not be salvageable.
Montgomery said the incident has shaken the residents of the small city, which numbers about 1,300 people. Crescent is 38 miles northwest of Oklahoma City in Logan County.
“It’s unbelievable, and there are no words to describe it,” Montgomery said. “But this is a community that loves the Lord and we trust God. Because of that, we find hope in situations where there’s seemingly no hope.”
For Murch, the next-door neighbor, the deadly fire made him realize to never take for granted the safety of his own family.
“For this to happen is just a tragic loss for our community,” Murch said. “Here in Crescent, we try to all look out for one another. But I can’t even imagine the pain she was feeling. My wife had nightmares about it (Sunday) night. We have a little 7-month-old of our own, and it makes you want to drop everything and hug your family. It really hits close to home when it’s right there on your block.”
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: 3 children found dead after fire in Crescent, Oklahoma