Tyonna Henderson, 1-year-old victim in a Kalamazoo apartment fire. (Courtesy: Jacqueline Fullerton)
Scene of deadly fire, Interfaith Apartments, Kalamazoo. (Photo by WZZM 13's Phil Dawson)
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WZZM) -- Neighbors at the Interfaith Apartments in Kalamazoo say they could hear the children crying inside the burning town home, but the flames prevented anyone from getting inside for a rescue.
"I ran down there and kicked the door," explains neighbor Willie Woodard. "It came open and a lot of flames and smoke spilled out. There was no way in."
Family members say Tevin and Taniya Williams, a set of three-year-old twins, and their one-year-old sister Tyonna Henderson were killed in the fire Monday afternoon.
Although their mother was nearby, investigators say the children were home alone and, by the time anyone noticed the fire, it was too late.
"There were no adults inside, that we can tell," says Lt. David Boysen of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety. "When we arrived there was fire coming out of both sides of the apartment windows, upstairs and downstairs. Unfortunately, I think the children inside were deceased before we even got here."
"It really hurt me that I couldn't help," ways Woodard. "I feel kind of disappointed in myself that I couldn't, but I know there was no way."
Relatives say the mother of the three children used a fire extinguisher to try to get inside the burning town home, but could not penetrate the flames and smoke.
They say she suffered minor burns and singed hair in the effort.
"I'm not mad at the mom," says Jacqueline Fullerton, great-grandmother of one-year-old Tyonna. "My heart is broken, but I'm not angry. I know the babies are in a better place. I don't know the details on what happened, all I know is the babies are gone."