Three Indian teenaged siblings were among four people killed when the house of the family that was hosting them for Christmas celebrations at Collierville, Tennessee, caught fire, according to multiple reports.
Sathwika Naik, 16; her sister Jaya Naik, 14; and brother Suhan Naik, 15, from Telangana’s Nalgonda district, were killed in the fire Dec. 23 along with their hostess, Kari Coudriet, 46. Seven others, including Coudriet ’s widower, Danny, and their son, Cole, 13, were hospitalized for treatment of smoke inhalation, the reports said.
The USA Today reported that the Naik teens were missionaries in partnership with the Collierville Bible Church and were studying at a school in Mississippi.
It added the Coudriets invited them to stay in their home when the school closed for winter break and the three could not go home to India. The father of the three, Srinivas Naik, a pastor, also associated with CBC, had returned to Nalgonda last year after working in the U.S., the publication said.
The children had stayed back to continue their studies at Mississippi’s French Camp Academy. In a statement, the CBC identified the three teenagers as Sharron, Joy and Aaron Naik, according to the Hindustan Times.
Srinivas Naik and his wife, Sujatha, flew to the U.S. immediately after coming to know about the incident. Cole and Danny survived after jumping from a second story window. A neighbor rushed to the scene and tried to go up to the second story with a ladder to rescue those trapped in the two-story house after Danny pleaded for help, the Times reported.
“It was so hot, and smoke was billowing,” news agency Associated Press quoted Collierville fire department chief Mark King as saying.
Local media reported that the investigators were still probing how the house caught fire.
According to local media reports, the fire took 20-30 minutes to be brought under control.
In Hyderabad, Telangana Congress Chief N. Uttam Kumar Reddy asked the state government to make arrangements for bringing back the bodies of the three teenagers to India, the Hindustan Times reported.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to give financial support to the family members following deadly fire.