St. Paul house fire: Family speaks after 3rd child has died

Nearly one week after a home went up in flames on Arkwright Street North in St. Paul, three of the six young children rescued from inside have since passed away at the hospital. 

In all, seven family members were rescued on Jan. 3. First responders found them unconscious because of smoke inhalation in the early morning hours.  Now, their father, Pacheng Vang, says his twin daughters and middle son have died. His wife and three other children are fighting for their lives, and are in "very critical condition."

"The whole children ward, every room was occupied by one of his children. And when I went there, two of the children had passed, but they have not taken them yet. Just to see them there is heart-wrenching," Pacheng’s aunt Yong Vang said. "He goes from one room, to another, to another, to hold his children, and to hear that this one is not going to make it; that we’re going to have to pull the plug on this one."

The fire started while Pacheng Vang was at work. St. Paul Fire says the home had working smoke detectors.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but it appears to have been accidental, with early on "common causes of electricity, electrical, potentially smoking, or an unattended candle as potential sources of ignition."

"I highly encourage every single family to start practicing fire drills at home, especially in the middle of the night," Pacheng said. "I don’t want any family, or the community, to see faces [in the] same condition as my family."

Now, community members are rallying around his family. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter spoke alongside them at a press conference on Saturday, "You’ve endured all of our worst nightmares," Carter said. He is encouraging community members to help the family pay for medical expenses and funeral expenses here

"We pray that the mother and the remaining children pull through, so he can start building his family again," Yong finished.