Updated: 05-07-2004 11:39:09 AM

Tennessee Firefighters Rescue Three Kids From Burning House; One Child Dies

Courtesy of The Commercial Appeal

Firefighters were able to drag three children from a burning home in Northeast Memphis early Thursday, but learned later that one child had died.

Julia Castruita, 3, was rushed to Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center following the fire in her home at 4100 Mamie, near Jackson and Wales. She died despite firefighters' revival efforts.

Brother Jorge Castruita, 5, and Karina Castruita, 1, were in good condition at Le Bonheur late Thursday, a spokesman said.

The children's parents, Maria and Crecensio Castruita were treated at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis and discharged early Thursday.

Police officers responding to a call on the opposite side of Mamie about 2:30 a.m. first noticed smoke and fire coming from the single-story home.

They began breaking windows and pulled several adults from the burning building, but were overcome by the fire.

Heavy smoke and fire greeted firefighters from two nearby station houses when they arrived. Within four minutes, the firefighters found all three children trapped inside, and got them outside.

The home was gutted and covered in soot, the metal siding melted.

Small bicycles and tricycles were strewn across the front yard.

"Those guys did a bang-up job," said Assistant Fire Marshal Ronald Brown. "They were able to accomplish that much in four or five minutes."

"We are always proud of our victories, and sad at our losses," he said.

Brown said the home didn't have smoke detectors.

Fire investigators Thursday sifted through the ruins in search of the cause and the fire's origin.

A fund has been set up for the Castruita family at Bank of Bartlett under the name Patricia Aguilar.

Donations can also be dropped of at La Herradura at 4091 Summer. The telephone number is 458-2330.