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Ind. mobile home fire kills 5 in family

| Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 10:09 p.m.

SULPHUR, Ind. — Shaken and dazed, the large gathering joined hands to brace for the horrific news they had dreaded — a fire that swept through a relative's mobile home early Thursday had killed two children and three adults in southern Indiana.

It took firefighters about two hours to extinguish the blaze that gutted the home near Sulphur, about 30 miles west of Louisville. Authorities suspect the fire was sparked by a wood stove that served as the source of heat.

A teary-eyed Crawford County Sheriff Tim Wilkerson gathered the family to inform them that the death toll was five. He brought along local fire and rescue Chaplain Hank Ruff, still in the muddy, sooty firefighting gear he wore to help extinguish the overnight blaze.

“There were cries and breakdowns,” Wilkerson said. “It's like a wall falls on you. It felt like that to me.”

At the sheriff's request, Ruff led the group in a middle-of-the-night prayer. It was a simple prayer that “asked the Lord to strengthen us in our time of need,” he said.

Although they had an electric furnace, the occupants had been using a wood stove to heat the home, Wilkerson said.

The homeowner's father, who lives nearby, spotted the flames about 12:30 a.m. He rushed to the burning home and got a gash on his hand as a rescue attempt was driven back by intense flames, Wilkerson said.

“There was just no way he could get in there. It was fully engulfed by that time,” the sheriff said.

The mobile home's owner, John Denton, 32, died in the blaze along with his 8-year-old daughter Kara Denton, and Denton's half brother, Bill Turben, 35, relatives said. John Denton's girlfriend and her 3-year-old son also died in the blaze.

The family was told of the deaths in the father's mobile home, a short walk from the burned home.

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