By Ron Marasco
A family in Lake City lost four people in an overnight fire: 22 year-old Tyra Pierson and her 10 month-old son Xavier, as well as Tyra's two young siblings that she was babysitting: eight year-old Madison, and three year-old Wyatt.
Sometime before 1:40 a.m. Tuesday morning, the house at Illinois street in Lake City went up in flames.
"We knew we had a pretty good size problem to start with," said Lake City Fire Chief Mel Alcox.
Four people were trapped inside, two upstairs and two downstairs.
"I tried to gain access to the residence but couldn't because of the smoke and heat," said Lake City Police Officer Dane Cook, who first noticed the smoke and flames.
The smoke and heat were so intense that it took firefighters over four hours to put it out.
"Oh, it was ablaze!" said Alcox. "Like I said, within probably five minutes after we got here, maybe even 2 or 3 minutes, I said to myself if there's somebody in there we are going to have a problem saving them."
Family members gathered outside later in the morning...sorting through rubble, trying to pick up the pieces.
The fire marshal says an electrical cord from a hanging lamp got pinched between a hide a bed, causing it to heat up.
"Unfortunately it put an overload on two plug-ins, and that caught the wall on fire," said Alcox.
The chief says in his 35 years in Lake City, he can't remember a fire that killed multiple people.
The chief also said there may have been another problem:
"We never heard any smoke alarms," said Alcox. "We didn't ask the owner if there was any, but usually you hear them. We would have heard them right off the bat when we got here, and there was no smoke alarm making any noise."
According to the Iowa State Fire Marshal's office, 28 people have died in fires so far this year.