5 children killed in South Texas house fire

Firefighters sift through the charred remains of a mobile home where five children perished in an early-morning fire Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Edna, Texas. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer)

HOUSTON (AP) — Five children were killed after their South Texas mobile home caught on fire and its roof partially collapsed, making rescue attempts impossible, officials said Tuesday.

Emergency personnel arrived shortly after 5 a.m. Tuesday at the mobile home in Edna, a town of less than 6,000 residents about 100 miles southwest of Houston.

Edna Fire Department Capt. Nick Strauss said when firefighters arrived at the scene, 60 to 75 percent of the mobile home was already engulfed in flames and the blaze only got worse after that.

Mourners hold a vigil outside the mobile home where five children died in an early-morning fire Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Edna, Texas. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer)
Mourners hold a vigil outside the mobile home where five children died in an early-morning fire Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Edna, Texas. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer)

Six firefighters went into the home looking for the kids.

“At the time our first unit got to the scene, fire was showing through the roof,” Strauss said. “The chances of someone surviving that by the time our guys got there were slim to none.”

The firefighters looking for the children had to retreat from the home after part of the roof came down and the structure’s floor began collapsing under them.

“It got too unstable and dangerous,” Strauss said.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation, he said.

The names of the children were not immediately released by authorities. Two of the children were girls ages 5 and 6, while the three others were boys ages 9, 13 and 15, Strauss said.

The children’s parents — Johnny Hernandez Jr., 30, and Annabel Ortiz, 32 — were found outside the home with another one of their children, whose age was unknown, when authorities arrived at the scene, said Jackson County Sheriff A.J. Louderback

Arthur Martinez, left, and Mary Ballin grieve in a field near the charred remains of a mobile home where five children died in a fire early Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Edna, Texas. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer)
Arthur Martinez, left, and Mary Ballin grieve in a field near the charred remains of a mobile home where five children died in a fire early Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Edna, Texas. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer)

Ortiz was taken to Citizens Medical Center in nearby Victoria, where she was listed in fair condition, according to hospital spokeswoman Shannon Spree. It was not immediately clear whether Hernandez was hospitalized.

The five children were well-liked on their school campuses, said Robert O’Connor, superintendent of the Edna Independent School District.

Two of the children were in elementary school, two were in junior high and the oldest boy was in high school. The 15-year-old boy started on the varsity football team as a defensive tackle and he was set to play Saturday in a state playoff game, O’Connor said.

“Edna is a small community and a small school district. This is one of those times where you have to come together and support each other and support the family through their loss,” O’Connor said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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