Three Teen Siblings Die in Wabash Fire

By Megan Trent

July 25, 2010 Updated Jul 26, 2010 at 5:02 AM EDT

WABASH, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Three teenage siblings are dead following a Wabash house fire early Sunday morning.

Investigators are still trying to figure out exactly what started the fire that took the lives of 17-year-old Caitlin Burke and her two younger brothers, 15-year-old Jacob Johnson and 13-year-old Jared Johnson. The children's parents, Jared and Martha Johnson, were able to make it out of the fire alive.

Officer Josh Prater of the Wabash Police Department spotted the fire around 3:47 AM Sunday. He immediately alerted authorities to the fire and went to the home at 88 N. Wabash Street to assist the parents who were franticly trying to reach their three children upstairs. However, thick smoke, flames, and heat kept anyone from re-entering the home.

The Wabash Fire Department and numerous other emergency response teams arrived on the scene, but were unable to save the three teens.

A neighbor who tried to help during the fire said,"I knew there were still kids in that house since it was so early in the morning. The kids were on the other side in the center. There was a flat roof, so you could get a step ladder and step up onto it. When I went around one way, my son, the officer, Marty, and Jared went around the other way. They found a ladder and threw it up, but the rest is what you've seen and heard."

That neighbor said he had went to school with both of the parents, who were high school sweethearts. He said all three children were great kids. He won't be alone in mourning the loss of these three young lives. It is undoubtedly a tragedy that will affect this community for quite some time.

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