Two children left home alone critically injured in house fire

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Two children were critically injured in a Winston-Salem house fire Thursday night after police said their mother left them home alone.

Winston-Salem police and fire departments responded to a home on Trellis Lane around 11:40 p.m. Police said a 9-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy were found unconscious in a bed.

Both children are listed in critical condition at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Police said Friday evening the children are showing some improvement.

The fire happened at the house of the children’s grandmother. The grandmother said she left the mother and the two children at her house around 6 p.m. The grandmother said she got a call that her house was on fire around 11:30 p.m.

Detectives said they have questioned the children’s mother, but they aren’t saying where she was when it happened or why she left the children alone. There is no word on whether she will face any charges.

The cause of the fire has not been officially determined yet, but fire officials said it appears it started in a back bedroom being used to store clothes and toys. That room was across the hall from the bedroom where the children were found, fire officials said.

Shaquelle Cornell was among those who first spotted the fire. He said he noticed smoke next door while he was getting headphones out of his car.

As he got closer to the house, he said he heard a smoke alarm and saw the blinds melting in the windows. He and others knocked on the door, but no one answered.

That’s why neighbors said they were shocked when firefighters carried two children out of the house.

“When they brought the little girl out, everybody just broke down that was standing outside. It was scary. It was real scary,” Cornell said.

“It was just unbelievable. I never thought there were children inside that house. That was not a thought at all. It’s sad,” said Shante Baker, neighbor.

Firefighters said it is procedure to check structures for people as soon as they arrive on the scene of a fire. In this case, city deputy fire marshal Norm Mitchell said these children were lucky.

“We can replace property, but we can’t replace children. Fortunately, we were able to get in there very quickly and were able to locate the children and get them out and to revive the children and get back to the hospital,”  Mitchell said.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the Winston-Salem Police Department at (336) 773-7700 or Crimestoppers at 727-2800.