SHEBOYGAN FALLS, Wis. – A house fire has claimed the lives of two children from a family in eastern Wisconsin, including an 11-year-old girl who went back into the house to rescue two other children, officials said Wednesday.
Sheboygan Falls Public Safety Director Steven Riffel identified the children who died as a 7-year-old boy, Carter Maki, and 11-year-old Natalie Martin.
Another boy, 10-year-old Benjamin Martin, was in very critical condition Wednesday at a Milwaukee hospital, Riffel said. He said a 9-year-old girl, Jenna Martin, escaped from the fire unhurt after Natalie woke her up and told her to run and get help.
Authorities previously had said three children had died, but the police department later said only two of the children were dead.
Jenna, the 9-year-old, escaped from the burning home in Sheboygan Falls Tuesday night after Natalie woke her up by yelling "fire, fire," and told her to run and get help, Riffel said. Jenna ran to a neighbor's house, and the neighbor called 911 at about 9 p.m.
"Very preliminary information is that the 11-year-old was able to wake the 9-year-old and give a warning to flee the residence. The 9-year-old did, believing the others were following," Riffel said. "The 11-year-old returned to assist the other two still upstairs, but none were able to flee the home."
All three were pulled from the fire by firefighters.
There were no adults in the house at the time, Riffel said. He said authorities were investigating reports that the parents may have been at a church Bible study. Riffel said the children were members of the same family and all lived together in the home.
He said smoke alarms were working. The cause of the fire is being investigated.
Sheboygan Falls is 55 miles north of Milwaukee.