By Joe Beck -- firstname.lastname@example.org
A house fire took the lives of two small children around 9:30 p.m. Thursday in Winchester.
Winchester firefighters say the two children, 4-years-old and 6-years-old, died from injuries suffered in the midst of heavy smoke on the second floor of the home at 210 Summit Ave.
The Winchester Fire Department withheld the names of the children and three adults who were saved in the fire but Deputy Fire Chief Scott Kensinger said all belonged to the same family. Neighbors and the white pages identified the husband and wife living in the house as James C. Jenkins and Shannon Berg.
Neighbors and a makeshift memorial created on the hood of a pickup truck in the driveway Friday morning identified the boys as Braydon, 4, and Landon, 6.
In a press release, Winchester firefighters said they rescued an adult male from a second floor window using a department ground ladder. They reported taking one adult to Winchester Medical Center for smoke inhalation, and a second adult to Winchester Medical Center for burns and later taken to a Washington D.C. hospital burn unit. A third adult was treated on the scene for smoke inhalation, according to the Winchester Fire Department.
Firefighters reported finding heavy smoke and moderate heat on the second floor upon their arrival at 9:42 p.m. Bystanders told them people were trapped inside the building, according to a fire department news release.
"An aggressive interior fire attack on the second level of the house allowed for quick extinguishment of the fire," according to the release.
The cause of the fire is undetermined and under investigation, according to fire department officials.
A next-door neighbor and two friends visiting with him said they saw James Jenkins come reeling out of the house and gagging as the fire broke out. The neighbor, Patrick Whirley, 14, said Jenkins had gone upstairs to get the children before the fire drove him back.
"All we heard was screaming and then smoke was running out the window," said William Lindawood, 15.
Whirley said several people gathered below the window where an elderly man stood as the fire worsened.
"They told him to bust out the window and jump out, but he didn't have enough strength to bust it out," Whirley said.
Three other neighbors gathered in the kitchen of a home on nearby Second Street Friday afternoon said James Jenkins suffered severe burns to his hands in his effort to rescue the children.
"His fingers were the size of sausages," said Jayson Music.
Anthony Clayton said he arrived on the scene shortly after the firefighters. He found an emotionally shaken James Jenkins standing in the home's carport.
"He was acting like he wasn't comprehending anything," Clayton said. "It took a good 25 minutes to talk him into getting into the rescue squad to go to the hospital."
"He's the best guy there is," Music said of Jenkins. "He's always there when you need him. He loves to fish, play with guns."
Kandice Crouse tearfully described Shannon Berg as her best friend. She said Landon was about to enter the first grade and Braydon was set to start kindergarten. Braydon would have been 5-years-old next week, she said.
"They were really close," Kandice Crouse said of the boys and their family. "Their whole life revolved around the boys."