Crime scene investigators Thursday collected evidence at the scene of a fatal house fire in Hammond nearly one week after three young children were killed. This comes at the same time new details are emerging on whether the children should have been staying in the home in the first place.
A propane-fueled space heater is the preliminary cause of the fire, according to fire officials.
NBC 5 Investigates has confirmed the Hammond police and fire Departments are conducting a joint investigation of the tragedy at 644 Sibley Boulevard.
The three children, 7-month-old Jayden Young, 3-year-old Alexia Young and 4-year-old Dasani Young, were not able to get out of the home during the fire. Another 3-year-old and a 6-year-old were also transferred to a local hospital suffering from smoke inhalation and minor burns. They are both listed in good condition.
Their father, D'Andre Young, was listed in critical condition with third-degree burns after trying to run back into the home in an attempt to rescue his kids.
- 3 Children Killed in NW Indiana House Fire
- House Involved in Fatal NW Indiana Fire Faced Previous Violations
- Grandmother Seeks Custody of Fire Survivors
- Family Claims Funding Page Set Up for Fire Victims is Fake
According to a published report from the Northwest Indiana Gazette, the children were in foster care with the state of Indiana until being returned to the home last June.
Officials told NBC 5 Investigates that electricity at the property was turned off last March, and gas was turned off last April. Additionally, officials said the home lost access to water in October.
"They should have inspected it better or did some type of investigating before they let them back in there," said neighbor Michael Canty.
A spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Child Services could not comment, nor confirm reports that the children were previously in foster care.
"Federal and State confidentiality laws prohibit DCS from providing information on cases," said DCS spokesperson James Wide.
The city slapped the property with several building code violations dating back to last Spring.
According to the Hammond city attorney, it remains unclear who actually owns the property. However, the city said someone who may be the owner of the property took out an insurance policy in October.