Coroner: Child dies at Riley Hospital after Evansville house fire

Coroner: Child dies at Riley Hospital after Evansville house fire
Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 9:59 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2022 at 11:25 AM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - A child that was rushed to the hospital after an Evansville fire on Friday has died.

The Marion County Coroner’s Office tells us three-year-old Ophelia Young died on Monday at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis.

Officials say that fire was called in at 9:45 a.m. Friday from the 400 block of E. Michigan St.

They say Evansville Police arrived first and confirmed there was a working fire.

They say Young was trapped on the second floor, and people were screaming.

Officials say fire crews made their way in, and handed the child out of the window.

Officials say the damage to the home was contained to the interior.

The Red Cross was also called to the scene.

We spoke with the homeowner, Zachary Ford. He told us the child was a three-year-old girl.

He says another child was playing with a lighter when the fire started.

Ford tells us he tried to get Ophelia, but she was hiding because she was scared.

She was taken directly to Deaconess Midtown before getting flown to Riley’s Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis.

Fire officials say initial reports state the girl had burns to her left arm and leg, as well as smoke inhalation.

EFD crews say the fire was put out in about 30 minutes,

Evansville officials say a child playing with a lighter caused the fire.

Here is our interview with Evansville Fire Division Chief Mike Larson.

Ford says he and his wife were babysitting their cousin’s child.

He had woken up at 7 a.m. and checked on the kids, who were asleep, so he dozed off himself, saying he didn’t feel well.

He was then awoken by two of his kids.

“What had happened was my son got ahold of a lighter,” says Ford.

“My son and my daughter was running to me saying, ‘Oh, the upstairs is on fire, the upstairs is on fire,’ and so I got up and I ran toward the stairs,” says Ford, “that’s when I started seeing the smoke and smelling the fire.”

There were seven people in the house including Ford, and he says he quickly realized that his cousin’s child, three-year-old Ophelia Young, was the only one not accounted for.

She was upstairs still.

“I tried. I tried multiple times. I was, like, I kept running back up there. I soaked my shirt and covered my mouth, but the smoke was still too thick,” says Ford.

He says members of the fire department had to pull him out of the house so they could get to work saving the child.

“I was so, I was scared, and more or less, I was more worried about the little girl that was up there. That was the only thing that was on my mind,” says Ford, “they literally had to force me to get out of the house because I wasn’t trying to leave without her.”

Firefighters had to cut a hole in the roof to let heat and smoke out, and Ford says the upstairs is ruined, the ceilings on the first floor are caving in, and he imagines it’s a total loss.

The plan moving forward is a simple one.

“Just freaking, pray, and hope that we’ll make it through it,” says Ford, “we’ve made it through situations before, but it’s never been this bad.”

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