CONROE, Texas (FOX 26) - Shenandoah police made the scene first with their body cameras rolling. The video is griping and terrifying. It shows officers rushing inside in a frantic attempt to rescue anyone inside. Heavy smoke and heat forced them to retreat, but believing people were trapped inside they tried to enter the second story. They couldn't.
They were right. Of the Mitchell children, TJ, Kaila, and Kyle were trapped inside. They never made it out. Ten-year-old Adrian did, but he is in critical condition. A close friend of 13-year-old TJ couldn't believe the news.
"I don't see how he died at an early age. I know everyone is going to miss him, especially me. I feel bad for his family," said 13-year-old Shanecy Miller. She says she's known him since kindergarten.
Almost everyone in the unincorporated community of Tamina is family by blood or by marriage. This has hit them hard. Because it is incorporated, there were no fire hydrants, so firefighters had to truck in water and lay lots of hose to reach the closest hydrant.
"It's really not something they're accustomed to do. Although there's no fire hydrant on the corner, they are well equipped. It's really not a hindrance to their operations. The age of the home, the amount of fire, the extent of the involvement upon their arrival, were factors that appear to have trapped the children on the second floor," said Montgomery Co. Fire Marshall Jimmy Williams.
The children's grandfather, uncle and grandmother also suffered injuries in the in the fire as they too attempted to rescue their loved ones. And the children were indeed loved by family and the community.
Another video shows them at a church gathering this Saturday singing, dancing and laughing. It could be a long time before people in Tamina hear laughter again.
"I just can't believe he died so early," Miller said.
It appears the home did not have working smoke detectors. The ATF has been called in to assist with the investigation.