TOLEDO, Ohio – Fire raced through a Toledo (search) apartment building Sunday afternoon, killing six children and critically injuring another, authorities said.
The six children died at area hospitals and another child was in critical condition late Sunday, said Fire Chief Michael Bell. The victims were six girls and one boy, ages 6 months to 7 years old.
Joe Jaramillo, 36, said he ran into the two-story apartment and tried to get upstairs where the children were trapped, as the mother of some of the children stood outside screaming that her babies were inside.
"I tried to crawl under the smoke," said Jaramillo, who had been visiting his daughter in the area. "They were yelling 'Help us,' but I couldn't do anything. I had to come back for air."
Toledo firefighters arrived about a minute after receiving an emergency call, but met heavy flames on a staircase as they fought to reach the children, Bell said. They contained the fire quickly after pulling the children out, he said.
No adults were injured. Bell said no adults were in the building when firefighters arrived, but he wasn't sure whether adults were inside when the blaze broke out.
Jaramillo said the father of one of the children had tried to go upstairs with a fire extinguisher, "but it didn't work." He and the father tried to go up the stairs a second time, but the smoke and flames were too thick.
"Then it was just quiet," Jaramillo said.
Authorities didn't immediately release the names or relationships of the victims. Neighbors said the woman who lived in the apartment with her children also had two sisters who live in the apartment complex.
Nearly all the fire damage was limited to one apartment and the roof of the two-story brick apartment building, which contained five units, said Battalion Chief Mark Klein. Investigators did not immediately know how or where the fire started.
The outside of the apartment building had been decorated for Halloween (search) with green cobwebs sprayed in a bush in the front yard and paper cutout bats taped to the front window.
Clay Neal, 32, who lived in the apartment next to the victims', said the children were always outside riding bikes and playing games. He wasn't home when the fire started and arrived just as paramedics were taking a baby out of the building on a stretcher.
"It just brings tears to my eyes because all of the kids didn't make it," Neal said.