RICHMOND, Va. -- Three people are dead, including two children, and several others are hurt after a house fire on Richmond's Southside Sunday. It adds to a concerning trend of an increase in fire fatalities in the city this year.
Neighbors woke up to flashing lights and sirens Sunday morning, prompting a series of questions.
"I saw the firemen and there was a lot of noise," said Nicolas Palacious.
He walked outside to let his dog out around 7 a.m. when he noticed a busy scene just a block away from his home.
"I was watching the bad smoke," he said. "There was a lot of black."
The smoke was shooting from a house on Banton Street that went up in flames with six people inside.
"Some of the crews immediately went into rescue mode while the others focused on putting out the fire," said Richmond Fire spokesperson, Amy Vu.
While battling the blaze, Vu said firefighters pulled three adults and two young kids out of the house. They found the children's mother laying on the ground conscious and breathing.
"It's believed that she jumped from a second story window," Vu said.
All six of them were rushed to a hospital including 9-month-old Jadae Copeland, 4-year-old Kadene Allen, and their mother, 22-year-old Jasmine Allen.
"At the hospital, the two children succumbed to their injuries. They did not survive sadly," Vu said. "And within a couple hours, their mother also succumbed to her injuries."
The children's uncle and a family friend remain in stable condition at the hospital as of Sunday evening, and the children's grandfather was not injured.
The tragedy brings the number of fire deaths in Richmond in 2021 to 8. That's more than the fire fatalities over the past three years combined. There were two in 2020, two in 2019, and none in 2018.
Richmond fire leaders already sounded the alarm about the increase in fire fatalities earlier this year. They said a common theme in most incidents is there were no working smoke detectors.
That was also the case on Banton Street.
"Please check your smoke alarms. Please make sure you have working smoke alarms," said councilwoman Reva Trammell. "Those smoke alarms save your life."
Trammell represents the city's 8th district which is where the fire happened. She said she is heartbroken for the family.
"I'm just lost for words when it comes to children, our little children, who have lost their lives," Trammell said.
Officials say a firefighter burnt his hand trying to rescue the people inside, and he is expected to be OK.
The cause of the fire in still under investigation.
The fire comes just a week after two children were also killed in a house fire on Flynn Road in Chesterfield County.
Vu said responding to these incidents are devastating for firefighters, especially when children are
involved. That's why the department places a focus on mental health support to help them cope.
"Members of our executive staff and our command staff will go and visit the stations afterwards and make sure there is critical stress debriefing," Vu explained.
She said firefighters are equipped and trained to help people on their worst days, but the mental and emotional toll should not be overlooked.
"It's amazing that they're still compassionate and supportive, and they do everything they can to keep it together, but they're trained to do that," said Vu. "And we're here to help them in terms of coping if that's what they need."