A St. Paul man is sharing his heart-wrenching story of how he wasn't able to save his 4-year-old daughter from a fire at their home Sunday night.
Peter Yang spoke to FOX9 Tuesday from a relative's home, grieving for his little girl and unable to assuage the guilt he feels at not being able to find her in the smoke and flames that engulfed their house.
Yang described how he and his family were eating ice cream and watching a movie Sunday evening at their two-story home on Jessamine Avenue East, when suddenly the house began filling with smoke and flames.
His wife and four other daughters, age 18 months to 10 years, escaped the house. Yang searched for his 84-year-old mother, found her in her first-floor bedroom and carried her to safety.
But Ntshialiag Yang, who had just turned 4 a week earlier, was nowhere to be found.
Yang, 59, said he went into the burning home nearly half a dozen times looking for the girl, who went by "Chialia." Each time he came out gasping for fresh air and then quickly went back in, until he was nearly overcome by the smoke himself.
Firefighters arrived and found the little girl unconscious in a room on the second floor. She was taken to Regions Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Peter Yang was also treated for smoke inhalation.
He said he wishes he could trade places with Chialia.
"I feel so guilty. Why could I not save my daughter?" a tearful Yang said to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I am the father. Why can I not save all of my family?"
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The house had functional smoke detectors, according to FOX9.
A funeral for the girl is planned for next week. The Yang family is currently staying with relatives, and a fund has been established on YouCaring.com to help the Yang family.