News and Tribune

January 6, 2014

New Albany house fire victims identified

Grandmother gives her account of fire that killed three young children, injured another

By GARY POPP
gary.popp@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — The identities of three children killed in a New Albany house fire early Saturday morning have been released.

Those killed were Trinity Hughes, 2, Tyrese Hughes, 4, and Tai’zah Hughes, 6, Floyd County Coroner Leslie Knable said.

Smoke inhalation has been preliminarily determined as the children’s cause of death.

Another child, Taty’ana Hughes, 5, survived the blaze and is being treated at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.

Knable said the child is believed to be in stable condition.

All four children were in the same bed when the fire began, according to New Albany Fire Department officials. The fire took place at 335 Ealy St. about 2 a.m.

New Albany Fire Department reported the fire was caused by a space heater near the bed where the children were located.

Marie Hughes Clark told news partner WAVE 3 News her daughter, Theresa, was smoking a cigarette on a friend’s front porch while her children were sleeping in the front bedroom of the house. She smelled burning and then heard a pop.

“It wasn’t until she heard a popping sound that made her turn around and she saw the flames,” said Hughes Clark. “When she opened it, it just pushed some force, like smoke and flames just pushed her. She went to the window, she just screamed, and people were coming out of their houses.”

Neighbors couldn’t get in the house. Firefighters were able to run through the back of the house, which is how they retrieved Taty’ana, WAVE 3 reported.

Taty’ana’s lungs have cleared and she has begun the process of a series of skin grafts. She suffered third-degree burns over 20 percent of her body. It’s believed Taty’ana’s asthma woke her up because of the smoke, but she fell as she tried to escape, according to the WAVE 3 report

According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for one-third of home heating fires and four out of five home heating fire deaths in 2011.

New Albany Fire Chief Matt Juliot reminded residents to keep a 3-foot perimeter around any kind of heating source and not to leave it unattended. He also urged regular maintenance for smoke detectors and making sure they have fresh batteries.