VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - The Virginia Beach Fire Department says a child died in a townhouse fire Thursday night. Fire officials identified the baby as 11-month-old Roarhe Bey.
Battalion Chief Jack Crandell said firefighters responded to the scene of a multi-family building fire in the 5400 block of Scholarship Drive in the Campus East Section of the city around 9:30 p.m.
Residents tell 10 On Your Side the family had just put the baby to sleep upstairs. The child's mother and family members were downstairs cooking, and by the time they realized there was a fire upstairs, the flames had already engulfed the second floor.
Two frantic family member ran into the intense fire and smoke to try to save the child. And several neighbors tried to rush in to help as well.
"We got to the top of the stairs and we couldn't get in. Then we all ran downstairs and ran out the back to try to break the window," said resident William McCoy. "It happened so quick and I felt helpless. It's not my child, but it felt like it was my child."
Crandell said two Virginia Beach Police Officers and a female resident were injured trying to rescue the 11-month-old baby. One officer was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, the other was transported to a hospital for the same injury. The resident was transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for burns and smoke inhalation, but her condition has not yet been released.
Fire crews arrived at the townhome four minutes after the emergency call. It was officially put out around 10 p.m. Crandell said there was extensive damage to the upstairs portion of the townhome.
Investigators say the death of the child is weighing heavily on firefighters but, there is some reassurance in knowing they did everything right.
"It's a tragic loss, and it was a tough loss last night, and those images will stay with them their entire careers," said Virginia Beach Battalion Chief Tim Riley. "Anytime they come on this street for the next 20 years they will think of this call."
The night was a tragedy neighbors won't forget either, and now the community and firefighters are trying to find some solace in each other.
"Fire service is a tight bond," Riley said. "Just like the families, a lot of this dealing and coping will be dealt with at the kitchen table."
Crandell said on Thursday the Virginia Beach Police Department was waiting for a search warrant to conduct a criminal investigation into the baby's death. When the investigation is complete, the Fire Marshall will go in and determine the cause of the fire.
As of October 3, the cause of the fire had still not been determined, according to Battalion Chief Amy Valdez with Virginia Beach Fire-Rescue.
"We have to wait for all evidence to be returned from the State and they are on a pretty lengthy backlog," Valdez told WAVY.com on Oct. 3.
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