Lakeland, Florida - An early morning house fire claims the life of a 3-year-old child and severely burns his father.
Firefighters were called to the home at 3418 Sheretz Road shortly after 6:00 Wednesday morning. They were told seven people -- two adults and five children -- were in the home. The family is made up of Charity Freeman and her two children, Brian Myers and his two children, and an infant son between Myers and Freeman.
Photos: Aerial photos of the house fire in Lakeland
When they arrived on scene, firefighters say the wood framed home was 90 to 95% engulfed in flames. Four children and Charity Freeman made it out unharmed. Bryan Myers was also taken outside with severe burns.
One of Myers' children, 3-year-old Landon Myers, did not make it out.
After his wife called 911, neighbor Gary Tyer says he ran into the burning home hoping to locate the 3-year-old boy.
"I run into the front and tried to go down the hallway but there's flames shooting everywhere, all through the hall and smoke, so I came out and run around the side of the house and knocked in one of the windows to see if I could hear the baby or see the baby and there was no luck there so I run back around the house to where the water hose was but that wasn't going to put the fire out," Tyer told 10 News.
When firefighters arrived they too tried to rescue the little boy but they weren't able to find him on the first try.
Once the flames were out, it took two more searches before they found Landon in a back room of the home.
"It's a tremendous task that we ask our emergency responders to undertake. Here's a situation where they thought a life may still be viable, they risked everything and unfortunately they were not able to make that save," says Deputy Chief Mike Linkins, with the Polk County Fire Rescue.
When the flames are out and things are calming down, Deputy Chief Linkins tells us that's when firefighters start thinking about the significance of what happened and that takes quite a mental toll on them. We saw a lot of emotion from the crews out here Wednesday morning. Counselors are available for those who worked tirelessly to save 3-year-old Landon.
The father in the household, Brian Myers, was airlifted to an Orlando hospital. Family say he is listed in stable condition with burns to 30% of his body.
Freeman and the surviving children will stay next door with family.
See Also: How you can help the Freeman/Myers family
This fire was difficult for firefighters for two reasons. One, there was an electrified power line when they arrived on scene and the hydrant was quite a ways from the home. It took all the hose on one truck and a hose from another truck -- almost 1,100 feet -- to reach the home. There are about 750 gallons of water on the trucks, so they did not run out of water, but it was an issue for firefighters.
The principal at Kathleen Elementary tells 10 News that teachers and parents have been calling in offering clothing and other items. She says they will do whatever it takes to help them.