Varying causes of death for children killed in Minneapolis duplex fire

The five children killed in a north Minneapolis duplex fire have been identified, and their causes of death determined.
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The five children killed in a north Minneapolis duplex fire have been identified, and their causes of death determined.

According to the Star Tribune, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner says 8-year-old Christopher Lewis, 6-year-old Mary Lewis, 4-year-old Fannie Lewis, 3-year-old Troy Lewis V and 18-month-old Gwendolyn Lewis died in the blaze, which started around 5 a.m. Valentine's Day.

The two surviving children – Shaca Lewis, 9, and Electra Lewis, 5 – remain hospitalized in critical condition. Troy Lewis, the 60-year-old father of all seven, is in satisfactory condition and recovering from smoke inhalation and spinal injuries.

KSTP reports Christopher, Gwendolyn and Troy Lewis V died due to smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning; Mary from smoke inhalation and "thermal injury" (essentially burns); and Fannie from inhaling "products of combustion" from the fire.

According to WCCO, three of the children – Christopher, Gwendolyn, and Mary – were pronounced dead at the scene. Fannie and Troy Lewis V were brought to North Memorial Medical Center, where they later died.

Just two days after the deadly fire, Troy Lewis spoke with multiple news outlets about his harrowing ordeal.

Lewis told the Star Tribune, after the fire broke out, he heard his daughter Shaca call out to him. Realizing he could not reach her by going through the kitchen, he opted to jump out of a second-story window, then ran back into the house via the ground floor.

He first rescued Shaca, bringing her outside, then went in once again. Lewis said he stayed low to the floor, and made a heartbreaking discovery.

" ... I saw my son, Christopher, and I grabbed his hand and I pulled him to me, face-to-face," he told the paper, "and I saw my baby dead.”

Lewis said he made a choice: He assumed the two other children in that room – Fannie and Troy Lewis V – were also dead. He left them to go find Electra and Mary.

He got Electra out alive, and tried to pull Mary to safety as well but she was already dead. The fire was then too consuming to go back in for Gwendolyn.

The children's uncle, Roy Lewis, tells FOX 9 they've gotten messages of support and condolences from all over the country.

"Try to wrap your mind around it, it's just so startling," Roy Lewis, brother of Troy Lewis, tells the station.

He adds Shaca and Electra are both "progressing" in their recovery.

Donations can be made to both the Lewis family and the Garretts – the family of seven who lived on the duplex's first floor. The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers is collecting money and everyday household items (such as clothing and toiletries) for both.

KSTP reports it's believed the fire started on the second floor of the house on 2818 Colfax Ave., then moved down to the first and up to the third. But investigators have not made an official determination.

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