9-Year-Old Boy Was Alone at House With No Smoke Detectors When He Died: Investigators

February 9, 2019 Updated: February 9, 2019

A 9-year-old boy was home alone when he died in a house fire, investigators said.

His house, which had no working smoke detectors, caught fire early Feb. 7, with emergency crews in Muncie, Indiana receiving word at 3:51 a.m. and rushing to the scene.

Neighbors told firefighters that a young boy lived in the house but they weren’t sure if he was home; firefighters went inside to look for him but the loft collapsed, forcing them to evacuate.

The boy’s mother arrived at 4:45 a.m. and told firefighters her son was inside the house. He was eventually found on the collapsed loft.

Delaware County Coroner Rick Howell told the Muncie Star-Press that the boy was identified as Vincent Gibbons and that he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Muncie Police Department Cpt. Joe Todd said the boy’s mother took his father to work on Feb. 8 around 10:30 p.m. and went to her mother’s house, where she fell asleep. When she went home, she found her house on fire and firefighters on the scene, reported Fox 59.

Robert Mead, chief investigator for the Muncie Fire Department, said that the fire appeared to start in the kitchen or the loft. He said there were no working smoke detectors in the house.

Both parents are cooperating with investigators and police officials said they don’t expect to file any charges against them.

“As far as the charges go, there is not anything evidence wise anybody we’ve talked to that lead us to believe they were bad parents in any way. The kid was well taken care of from everything we can discover,” Muncie Police Detective Dustin Lee told RTV.

Officials also noted that the fire could have been burning for hours before firefighters arrived at the scene.

“Unfortunately, the house held a lot of heat. It’s a brick home. It’s an older building. The fire went quite some time before it was noticed,” Muncie Fire Department Chief Eddie Bell said.

While firefighters did try to locate anyone in the house multiple times before finding the boy, officials believed at first that it was possible no one was home because at least one of the family’s vehicles were gone.

“On a Wednesday at 4 in the morning, it’s odd someone’s not at home,” James Clevenger, Muncie Fire Department battalion chief, told the Star-Press.

Vincent was a student at South View Elementary School. A spokesman for the school district said that counselors and a therapy dog were sent to the school to help console his friends and classmates.

Mayor Dennis Tyler called the boy’s death “a horrible tragedy that will have a far-reaching impact across our community.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends, loved ones and the child’s classmates,” the mayor said, adding praise for the work of firefighters and other first responders.

From NTD News

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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