3-Year-Old Boy Died in House Fire After Dad Ran Back in to Try and Save Him: 'He Was Covered in Ash'

"I just cannot believe he’s gone," said neighbor Robert Wojtowich

  • Authorities say a toddler has died after his family's Indiana home went up in flames on Monday, April 22

  • A neighbor said the boy's father re-entered the home to try and rescue his son, but to no avail

  • The child's parents were reportedly hospitalized for smoke inhalation and burns

A 3-year-old boy has died after a house fire tore through his family’s Indiana home this week.

Fire officials said the blaze began around 11:15 a.m. local time on Monday, April 22, in the 900 block of Cornwallis Lane in Munster, according to ABC affiliate WLS-TV and WGN-TV.

Witnesses said the toddler’s father re-entered the home and attempted to rescue his son, who ultimately did not survive, WLS-TV and NBC affiliate WMAQ-TV reported.

Neighbor Robert Wojtowich recalled seeing the boy’s mother screaming “my baby's gone” in the driveway of their home. He said the child’s father ran back inside after realizing his son had not escaped.

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“He was covered in ash," Wojtowich told WMAQ-TV. “It makes me wanna cry. I just cannot believe he’s gone.”

The toddler was pronounced dead at the scene of the fire, per the reports. His identity has not been released to the public.

Kim Mullens, who lives in a neighboring town home that was damaged in Monday’s fire, said the boy who died went by the nickname “Mackie,” according to WMAQ-TV.

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“My problems are nothing compared to theirs. Nothing," she said. "God, my heart goes out to them."

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The Munster Fire Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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Officials also said both of the child’s parents were hospitalized with smoke inhalation and minor to moderate burns.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

"Any loss of life is terrible for us, but when you talk about a child, it's really hard,” said Munster Fire Chief Mark Hajduk, per WLS-TV. “That's the hardest thing there is.”

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