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Fire kills 4 kids, dad in Kentucky

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 6:16 p.m.
Firefighters from the Shelby Valley Volunteer Fire Department work Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, to extinguish a blaze at a home in Jonancy, Ky., which officials say killed four children and one adult and injured another adult. The blaze remains under investigation by Kentucky State Police. (AP Photo/Appalachian News-Express, Chris Anderson) MANDATORY CREDIT

JONANCY, Ky. — An early morning blaze at a home in rural eastern Kentucky killed four children and their father on Wednesday, and left the mother severely burned when she attempted to save the children from the flames.

The fire in the small home in southern Pike County began around 2:30 a.m., state police Trooper Tony Watts said. The child's mother was taken to the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington.

Pike County Coroner Russell Roberts said the bodies of the five victims were found in the home's living room, where they had been sleeping near an electric space heater.

A relative who lives nearby said she woke up to find the house engulfed by flames.

“There was nothing I could do, I got second-degree burns just getting close to it,” said Glema Blair, the children's great aunt.

By afternoon, a makeshift memorial had gone up at the site of the single story frame home on a narrow, serpentine road that leads up the hillside. Red flowers and four blue balloons decorated the memorial and included a collage with pictures of the father and the four children.

Near the charred remnants of the home were playground equipment, a swing set and a tricycle.

Just after the fire started, Blair, who lives behind the home, ran to the fire and saw the children's mother, Tammie Tucker, and Tucker's father, James Tucker, attempting to get inside. Tammie Tucker suffered severe burns, Blair said.

“She was trying her best,” said Blair, who was fighting back tears.

Hospital spokeswoman Julie Phillips said Tucker was in critical condition.

James Tucker said he was awakened by his daughter beating on the window of his home, screaming “Help, Daddy, help!”

“When I opened up the curtain and looked out the window, the whole house was up in flames,” James Tucker said.

His daughter yelled through the window, “I need help getting the babies out of the house.”

Tucker rushed to the house, but “there wasn't no way I could get into it.”

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