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Seven children taken to hospital after Portsmouth townhome fire

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Posted at 2:19 PM, Apr 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 09:47:47-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - A fire at a townhome sent a number of children to the hospital Wednesday afternoon.

The fire was in the 4500 block of Greenwood Drive and was reported around 1:15 p.m. It happened at the Charlestowne Condominiums.

PT Charlestown Condominiums townhouse fire (April 13)

When News 3 got to the scene, we saw children outside, who told us they are out of school for spring break.

Portsmouth fire crews rescued two children trapped on the home's second floor. They were treated immediately and taken to the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in critical condition.

Seven children self-evacuated from the fire. Five of the seven were taken to Children's Hospital Kings Daughters with non-life-threatening injuries, and two victims were evaluated and remained at the scene.

The fire was contained to one unit, according to firefighters.

Nine children were inside the condo when fire started.

"There was an active fire. A lot of people on scene out and about. Crews were aggressive and were able to pull two children out of the home," Battalion Chief Chris Riley said.

Fourteen-year-old Davion Blackwell says he went over to the apartment when he smelled smoke.

"I smelled it even stronger as I went outside to see what was happening. I see three little girls out the window getting ready to jump off, calling for help, and I saw fire behind them. I was going to tell them to jump out, and then another grown-up came over," Blackwell said.

"There’s basically eight girls in that house that live there because they are my neighbors," Blackwell said.

Davion says it was scary to witness.

"They were going to jump before I even got outside, but I didn’t want them to break their back or anything. They were trying to escape. They didn’t want to get burned up," Blackwell said.

One neighbor who did not want to appear on camera saw smoke in his kitchen before realizing it was coming from next door.

"It was coming from behind the microwave. I ran around the back where the kids were being evacuated at."

He says he tried helping the children get out of the burning home. His unit sustained some damages.

"Water damage; a lot of smoke and the ceiling collapsed in my bedroom," the neighbor said.

The Portsmouth Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the scene, and Red Cross will be assisting.

Streets were blocked off for several blocks as fire officials responded to the scene.

The fire is now out and the cause is being investigated, fire officials said.

The deputy fire chief told us at the time of the initial report, there were only children inside the house. When asked if any parents or adults are being charged, he responded that the fire is still under investigation.

Around the same time as this incident, two children were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation after a fire at a Suffolk apartment. This fire happened around 1:23 p.m.

Karen Mitchell, the vice president of patient care services at CHKD, provided News 3 with the following statement:

"CHKD treated 10 fire victims who were brought to our emergency department the afternoon of April 13 by fire and rescue personnel. The children ranged in age from 2 years to 9 years of age. As of 4 p.m., four patients were in intensive care, one patient in a general care unit and five patients were being treated in the emergency department. You’ll have to direct any questions regarding residence of the children and location of the fire to fire and rescue squads as our focus has been on patient care and family support."
Karen Mitchell, vice president of patient care services at CHKD

We've reached out to authorities for clarification on exactly where the children who were taken to CHKD are from and whether the kids impacted by the Suffolk apartment fire were taken to this hospital.

Stay with News 3 for updates.