Three children perish in house fire

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Mother, two other children escape blaze

Staff Writer

TELL CITY – The deadliest fire in recent Tell City history claimed the lives of three siblings early Friday and cast a pall over the community just three days after Christmas.

The grim details of the house fire at 1027 15th St. was still under investigation Friday by the State Fire Marshal and Department of Homeland Security.

By mid-morning local authorities had released the names of the victims as 11-year-old Danielle Plock Sims and her siblings, Thomas, 6, and Roseanna, 3. The older two children were students at William Tell Elementary and the youngest child was enrolled in preschool.

The blaze started shortly before 3:30 a.m. Friday as the family slept, officials said. The mother, Selina Applegate, and two older children were able to escape the two-story home before it became engulfed in flames. Once outside, Applegate apparently tried to make entry back into the house to rescue the other three children who had been sleeping in an upstairs bedroom. However by that time, the flames and heat prevented her from going back in.

She and her two surviving children were transported to area hospitals for treatment of smoke inhalation and minor injuries.

Officers with the Tell City Police Department were the first on the scene and also unsuccessfully attempted to rescue the children. Moments later, Tell City firefighters arrived and tried to go in through a second-story window. However, Fire Chief Greg Linne said the flames had already reached that location, forcing rescuers to again retreat.

“They were receiving burns through their Nomex hoods,” Linne said of his personnel, who were treated on scene for minor burns. “We got a ladder to the window. The window was open. There was so much heat, smoke, steam coming out of that window.”

“The upstairs area, from what I could tell, was heavily involved in fire from the back side of the house. And it was just within a couple minutes that the rest of the upstairs was involved in fire,” he continued. “We knocked the fire down and ventilated the roof and finally got to a point where we could safely get in.”

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, nor has the location where the blaze began.

No working smoke alarms were found in the residence as of Friday afternoon and none were heard by witnesses.

“It’s unfortunate. It’s a tragedy,” said Tell City Mayor Jims Adams Friday morning. “I would reach out to the community and ask for their help in any way they can … We as a city, we just want to wrap our arms around these family members because we want them to know they are not alone.”

State Fire Marshal investigators continue to talk to survivors to determine a cause and origin of the fire. The extent of damage will make a final determination difficult, said lead investigator Clayton Kinder.

Linne said the fire was the deadliest in his 22 years with the department.

News Editor Vince Luecke contributed to this story.