Children Die in Fire: “My Heart is Ripped Right Now”

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Three children, all under 3 years old, died in a fire on the city’s north side Monday.

The fire call came in around 2 p.m. to the Interfaith Homes off Woodward Avenue.

When firefighters arrived,  smoke and flames were pouring out of the windows of the apartment building.

Inside, firefighters discovered the bodies of three children: twins Tevin and Ty’nitha Williams, 3, and a 1-year-old little girl, Tyonna Henderson.

Investigators believe the children were left home alone.

“There was nobody home at the time when we arrived here, and we don’t know whoever was watching the kids had left,” said Kalamazoo Public Safety Assistant Fire Chief Brian Uridge.

Uridge said the fire was far along, and the floor had begun to collapse before crews even got inside.

“The stairway was burned out, and the fire was pretty advanced,” said Uridge.

Family members of the little ones watched and waited at the scene.

A criminal investigation is being done as part of public safety policy.

Later Monday evening, detectives went inside the gutted building to gather evidence and waiting on autopsy reports to find out more about how long the children may have been in the fire.

The father of the twins told Fox 17 at the scene he was not there at the time and is having a hard time understanding why the children were left alone.

Residents of the complex said a fourth sibling, a little girl, was able to escape the fire, but police could not confirm those details.

“My heart is ripped right now,” said Jacqueline Fullerton, Tyonna’s great-grandmother. She lives down the street and rushed to the scene when she got a call from a relative.

“It was just the flames all over, and people all around, and we didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “I did have a chance to talk to the mom she was talking ot a detective and she said she heard the kids upstairs and she just heard them crying, but she couldn’t go get them.”

No word on a cause.

One firefighter was injured during the response after he fell from a ladder. He was taken to the hospital but the injuries were thought to be minor.

Public safety officers also had to break up several fights during crowd control at the apartment complex.

All four units in the building are damaged and have been vacated.

The American Red Cross is assisting with short-term emergency shelter for the affected families, according to a news release from Interfaith Homes, a LIFT Foundation sponsored property.

“It’s a sad day when young children are lost in a tragedy such as this,” said LIFT Board President David Anderson. “Our hearts go out to these grieving families.”

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10 comments

  • kevin

    If public assistance is going to pay single women to have children perhaps they should also pay for child care when they decide to step-out for awhile.

    • De-De

      Kevin you are an asshole, The mother left the children with an adult, an he is the one who left them alone. UGH!!! Im so tired of all these negative comments everywhere, you people were not here, and thus-fore only know WHAT YOU READ!!! And obviously are not good at that anyway!

      • kevin

        You were there de-de? Didn't see you mentioned in the story. Why didn't you save the children since you were there?? My point is "children are more than just paychecks!!" If you want children get married have children, if you don't get a job!!! Public assistance is not a job!!!!!!!

  • buffy

    i don't know why public assistance doesn't include birth control? it's obvious this "man" needs it if he is going to go neglecting his children. you don't deserve the privilege of children if you do not care for them. period.

  • De-De

    @ Fox17, it is 5 am why is your crew BACK OUT HERE??? Your truck is parked outside my kids window and is very loud, UGH!!! Come back in the good daylight!!! Ive had enough for one day.

  • Roger

    My condolences to the family. I do hope though, who ever was "in charge" of these children is figured out and the full extent of the law is applied to them. I hope the truth is found and the right course of action is taken.

  • Don

    Don't worry citizens, the darling mother in the will be pregnant (probably with twins and maybe triplets) so she'll have a litter again! That's the way it works…..

  • SAG

    Wow Don, why are you judging this woman? You do not know her and if someone was to judge you what would be your excuse or story. I am sure if she could do it all over again it would be differently. Thank God the children are in heaven and can never be replaced. Praying for the family and all of those individuals who are waiting to tear this family heart out some more.

    • kevin

      Sorry SAG but like Don my previous comment sounds crude too. Some people on public assistance see more children as a bigger payday. More children = more money = no work. Can't keep paying single women more money to have more children and think things will improve. Truth isn't alway expressed in a pretty package, SORRY!!!