Seven children died Tuesday evening from carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation after a fire engulfed a home in a central Pennsylvania farming town, according to a local coroner.
It's just a terrible, terrible tragedy. Seven young children. I've never had a situation like this. I've never run into the situation of this magnitude, said Michael Shalonis, the Perry County coroner, according to the Patriot-News.
The children from the town of Blaine ranged in age from 7 months to 11 years. A three year-old sister survived.
The children who died in the fire were Christian, 11; Isabel, 9; Brady, 7; Hannah, 6; Heidi, 4; Maranda, 2; and Samantha, 7, according to WHTM-TV.
Tom Pinkerton, a Pennsylvania State Trooper said the mother, Janelle Clouse, was milking cows in the house's barn when the fire started, according to the Associated Press. She was alerted to the fire by her three year old child who came into the barn to alert her that there was smoke in the residence.
After calling 911, he says she and her child ran a short distance down the road where she knew her husband was.
He immediately returned and by that time, the fire department was already on the scene and the house was fully engulfed in flames, he said.
Once the fire was contained and put out, police found the deceased children, he said.
A separate AP report says the father left the home earlier to begin his rounds hauling milk at 10 p.m., according to police. After picking up milk, the report says he parked the truck about a mile away from the home before falling asleep.
Photos by the Associated Press show a crib and other pieces of furniture charred, with damage to a car parked outside. The house's external walls appeared intact, but were darkened as a result of the fire.
The children's grandfather, Noah Sauder told the Associated Press the fire may have started in the kitchen, where the family used a propane heater.