VIDEO: Police respond to fire that killed 3 kids

Posted at 7:28 AM, May 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-15 07:28:03-04

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, TX (KTRK/CNN) – Three police officers in Texas are haunted by a house fire where they tried to rescue three trapped children.

Captured on body cameras, a Friday morning call will forever be on the minds of three officers who arrived to see a home engulfed in flames and a woman screaming that there are children inside.

"This one was really different for me,” said Officer C.J. Duenas with the Shenandoah Police.

Duenas, Officer Patrick Reade also from Shenandoah and Officer Henry Richard from Oak Ridge North went inside the house. The three searched for rags to put over their faces, something Reade said he learned from his firefighter brother.

"I only make it a couple of steps into that room before I have to back out. It was just intense,” Reade said.

Richard tried to get below the smoke.

"I was hoping a voice came and said they are in there or a yell or some type of life. At that point, I would have crawled to them,” he said.

The smoke was becoming more intense, and Duenas noticed the ceiling was about to collapse.

"When we had drawn back and gotten out of the house and realized if they're in there, it's probably over. There's not any words that can describe that feeling,” Reade said.

Still, they persisted. Outside, Reade moved a ladder to a second story window and tried to help. He was able to break the glass, but his hands were burned from the head of the ladder.

The officers say at that point they were no longer using their heads but their hearts.

"What you saw on that body cam from the three officers that went in was simply our heart,” Duenas said.

When the fire had taken over the home, the officers went next door to warn others to get out.

It wasn’t until later the officers learned the names and ages of the children they were trying to save – Terrance, 13, Kaila, 6, and Kyle, 5.

The children’s grandfather Bobby Johnson as well as his son Jarvis Johnson tried to rescue the children as well.

A brother to the three children – Adrian Mitchell, 10 – survived the fire and was transported to the hospital. His condition has not been released.

Officers Duenas, Reade and Richard suffered from smoke inhalation due to their rescue attempts, but they say they would walk into the burning home again without hesitation.

They only wish they could change the outcome.

"I can't imagine losing one kid, but that family lost three,” Duenas said.

The officers say the story will always play in their minds and the children will always be in their hearts.

"I know it's going to stick with me for the rest of my career,” Duenas said.

Copyright 2017 KTRK, Shenandoah Police via CNN. All rights reserved.