Sunday morning's fire on Belmont Avenue in Springfield, Massachusetts, killed Aden Abdakadr and his two children, Ahmed Ahmed, who was two, and Fatumo Ahmed, who was one year old.
The Boston Globe reported that Abdakadr made it out of the building, and ran back in when he realized his children were still inside.
Abdakadr had relocated to Springfield from Somalia with his wife, who survived the fire, and is pregnant, according to Jewish Family Services in Springfield.
Dennis Leger, spokesman for the Springfield Fire Department, said it appears the building alarms were going off Sunday morning, but they were largely ignored. It happens all the time in larger buildings, he said.
"The alarms are sounding [sometimes] because somebody is smoking in the hallway, or it's a malfunctioning detector," Leger said. "A lot of times, people don't egress the building."
A spokesperson from the office of the Massachusetts fire marshal said the building had a number of illegal child window guards. Springfield's Code Enforcement Officer David Cotter said while the investigation is underway, he can't comment on whether they had anything to do with the fatalities.