City, county, state officials and even the families of the victims are commending members of the Erie Fire Department for all they did at the scene of the West 11th Street home daycare fire early Sunday, even though the outcome was tragic.

For the first time, Erie firefighters shared stories with Erie News Now about their battle to save the children.

When they arrived at the scene, they spring into action each with their own duty...knocking down the fire, setting up ladders, and then going in to try and find the five little ones trapped inside.

Even with their turnout gear on, the fire was burning hot for them.

In the darkness and the smoke, it was hard to find the five children ranging in age from 9 months to 8 years old. Four were in second floor bedrooms, one was found in the bathroom. Lt. Len Trott said even though the situation in the house was very hard, they were holding out hope. "You always hold out hope, there’s always the chance especially you know, young kids are strong and resilient, you don’t even think about that you find 'em you get 'em outside and get medical treatment." 

They said they had at least ten firefighters from Engine Companies 6, 11, 12 and tower 2 searching in the house. Firefighters said they had to crawl and reach the children by feel.

Lt. Charles Campbell described what it was like to find two of the children. "You can’t see anything so you’re just crawling around feeling and you feel a limb then you find the rest of the child, and lift her up...I’d hand her off to somebody else, went back into that room and a little of the smoke had cleared and I saw a heel, and I had checked that room twice before but apparently the older child had covered her with a blanket, that was the last one that I had pulled out," Lt. Campbell said.

As they found each child, they passed them one by on from firefighter to firefighter, from the second floor down the stairs to the fresh air.  

Firefighters said they had incredible collaboration with Erie Police Department officers and the scene and Emergycare ambulance all pulling together to help.  They believe it was just as challenging for the rescuers on the outside of the house. "I think it’s a lot harder for the guys outside working on them, because when we were in the dark...we didn’t get to see a face, but they get to see the face and put a face onto that child," Lt. Campbell said.