Officials: Children injured in house fire while mom was at work - KMOV.com

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Officials: Children injured in house fire while mom was at work

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Credit: KMOV reporter Alexis Zotos Credit: KMOV reporter Alexis Zotos
Jeannetta Maclin is accused of abuse/neglect of a child (Credit: St. Louis Police Department) Jeannetta Maclin is accused of abuse/neglect of a child (Credit: St. Louis Police Department)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – The mother of two children was taken into custody following an investigation into an apartment fire in west St. Louis.

The fire broke out Thursday afternoon at a three-story apartment building in the 800 block of Clara, which is located just north of Delmar. Two children, ages 2 and 5, were alone in the apartment when the fire broke out.

"When they pulled them out of the building, they were not breathing, they were in cardiac arrest," said St. Louis Fire Department Chief Dennis Jenkerson.

Both children were taken to a hospital and listed in critical, but stable condition.

The St. Louis Fire Department, Bomb, and Arson unit, as well as the Child Abuse Unit, responded to the scene. An investigation revealed the the children were home alone when the fire occurred.

Friday, the mother of the children, Jeannetta Maclin, 23, was charged with two counts of abuse or neglect of a child and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

According to the probable cause statement, Maclin left the children alone while she went to work an eight-hour shift in Creve Coeur. 

"She's is just a single mom, she is just trying to do what she can really. She's trying to make the best of a bad situation," said neighbor neighbor Chris Graham.

Prior to Thursday's fire, the 5-year-old sustained a minor injury to the face while playing with a lighter while in the care of a family member near the end of January, the probable cause statement read. 

As neighbors gathered outside the building Thursday, one neighbor said, "It's just heartbreaking to hear kids that are hurt in a fire. It's just terrible."

A preliminary investigation into the cause of the fire revealed an ashtray and remains of a lighter were found near a sofa that was located in the living room. Maclin was believed to have stored an ashtray and lighter in a side table drawer near the sofa, officials said. 

Firefighters said there was a smoke detector in the apartment, but that detector was installed improperly.

" We have differing reports on whether or not it was operational. We do have photos of it being low in the building which would have allowed for tremendous amount of smoke for it to gather and bank down in the apartment prior to the alarm sounding," says Cpt. Gregg Favre with the St. Louis City Fire Department. 

Chief Dennis Jenkerson of the St. Louis Fire Department said he could not stress enough about the importance of having active smoke detectors in a home.

Chief Jenkerson said finding the children was a challenge since they were alone in a first floor apartment.

Alderman Frank Williamson from Ward 26 says he was on the scene. He also said the city can do more work to ensure buildings are equipped with smoke detectors.

"We need to do a little more work with some of the budget restraints. We still need to step up and make it more safe for the residents of St. Louis."

Officials said apartment owners are required to install and maintain smoke detectors.

Investigators said they are still working to determine a cause of the fire, but they say a space heater was in the apartment.

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