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Uncle fails to save 7 from Ky. house fire

| Sunday, March 10, 2013, 9:21 p.m.

GRAY, Ky. — Gino Cima raced to a house as it was engulfed by flames in rural Kentucky, frantically trying to save his nephew, his nephew's pregnant fiancee and five young children inside. But he was too late: He found his nephew's body near a side door, laying in a way that suggested the man had been trying to rescue the sleeping children.

He said he screamed to firefighters: “There's babies in that house!”

Cima said Sunday that he arrived within minutes of hearing of the Saturday morning blaze.

“When I opened the screen door, she was laying at the door with her head to the door. And I pulled her out,” he said, speaking softly. “And about 2 feet from her laying the other way was (my nephew). And I went in and got him and pulled him out. But they was done gone. There wasn't nothing I could do.”

He said he then raced to the front of the house to try to save the children.

“And that's when they had the five babies laying out in the front yard,” he said.

Family members said the five children killed ranged in age from 10 months to 3 years.

Relatives said the nephew's fiancée was the mother of three of the children who died. The other two children were siblings, friends of the family at a sleepover.

Officials said the cause of the fire was under investigation. No foul play was suspected. State police said Sunday that no more information on the fire would be released until Monday.

Laura Cima, Gino's wife, said they owned the single-story, wood-frame house that the couple was renting. The family had recently moved in and were busy painting and getting carpets cleaned. They shared a bedroom in the back of the house, and Laura Cima said the children were sleeping in a front room.

Gray is a few miles outside Corbin, a city of about 7,000 in the foothills of Appalachia near the Daniel Boone National Forest and the borders of Tennessee and Virginia.

Shannon Disney, a sister-in-law of one of the victims, said the house that burned down is surrounded by homes of family members — so many that the area is nicknamed “Disneyland.”

“Everybody is very heartbroken over it. Everybody knows the Disney family,” said Amy Weddle, who was working Sunday at J&G Market, a popular convenience store where the couple and the children frequently stopped to buy candy and milk. “They're always good to everybody.”

Weddle put a jar on the counter Sunday seeking donations to help pay for burial expenses. It had four $1 dollar bills in it Sunday morning.

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