It all started with a fire call overheard on the scanner.
The sirens caught my attention while I was writing up an accident report. I turned up the volume and tuned in, but I couldn’t hear an address. Eventually, I nailed down the location of the apartment fire and headed to 449 Harr Drive.
I made it to the scene and met with Maj. David Richardson from the Midwest City Fire Department for an overview of the situation. I wasn’t expecting to hear what he was about to tell me.
Two children and a 26-year-old woman were found unresponsive and dead inside one unit.
My eyebrows arched. My eyes diverted to my notebook. Did he really just say what I think he did?
At least eight other apartment units were damaged by the…
I kept taking notes, but my mind was still hung up on the victims. In all my experience as a crime reporter, I can honestly say I’ve been to a lot of fire and crime scenes, but this one caught me off guard.
Two innocent children had lost their lives and a 26-year-old woman was battling to keep hers. It was unlike anything I’ve ever covered.
Maybe it was the way the neighbors and community really rallied around each other. I watched as a neighbor handed a bottle of water to one man who escaped from the fire with his dog. Others gathered and prayed for the victims.
Or maybe it was the shock that two children were killed so suddenly. Several people told me how they felt when firefighters brought out one of the boys in a wrapped blanket.
After all three victims were taken to the hospital in ambulances, neighbors lingered around the property, hoping to hear better news.
And they did.
Richardson told me shortly after I arrived that the woman thought to be deceased had been revived at the hospital. Finally, there was a moment of hope for the crowd.
I felt it too.
As reporters, I know we are told not to become the story, but we’re human. Our reporting is always going to be accompanied by compassion, grieving, understanding and numerous other emotions. That’s unavoidable.
To me, it wasn’t just another story. It never is.
As of Sunday night, the names of the victims haven’t been released, and firefighters are still trying to determined the cause and origin of the fire.
No matter how many questions remain, one thing is for sure. It was a tragic day for many in the community who will never forget.
I know I won’t.
It all started with a fire call overheard on the scanner. It ended with mournful silence outside of the structure where two boys and a young woman used to live.