Officials determine fatal Read St. fire as accidental

Coroner releases identity of 3-year-old boy killed in Evansville house fire
Updated: Apr. 23, 2021 at 12:39 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - An Evansville woman and her grandson were sent to the hospital after a house fire on Friday afternoon.

Vanderburgh County Coroner Steve Lockyear confirmed Friday night the boy died as a result of his injuries.

On Saturday evening, the coroner identified the boy as 3-year-old Zaiden McCallister of Evansville.

According to the Evansville Fire Department, the fire broke out in the area of Read Street and Illinois Street around 4:45 p.m.

EFD Fire Chief Mike Larson says firefighters found the woman in her front yard with second-degree burns on her arms. He says the boy was unconscious when crews rescued him from the second floor of the house.

Both were transported to Deaconess Midtown Hospital, which is where the boy died.

The grandmother has since been taken to Louisville for treatment.

We are told the fire was considered under control just after 5 p.m., but crews stayed on the scene looking for hotspots. The initial report from investigators states the cause of the fire appears to be electrical in nature.

Officials determined that fire started in the first-floor bathroom.

Chief Larson says a neighbor tried to save the boy by propping a ladder against the house before crews arrived.

We are also told a neighbor told firefighters the woman kicked out a window air conditioner and was rescued from the roof of the front porch when employees from Dartt Automotive brought a ladder over to her.

“Firefighters made entry to the downstairs area, were exposed to some very high heat and very thick smoke conditions, so it was really tough for them to get in there very quickly,” Chief Larson said. “They did a little bit of firefighting, knocked some of the fire down, which at this time we believe started in the back corner.”

EFD says extreme heat and heavy smoke conditions impeded search efforts until they were able to find and darken down the fire, which officials say appears to have started in a back bathroom on the first floor.

Fire officials tell 14 News one firefighter was initially reported injured, but the extreme heat from the initial search got to him. They say he was checked by AMR at the scene and is doing fine.

Fire officials say they determined the fire to be accidental.

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