Fire tore through a home in this rural town, killing three children and their father, who had rushed back into the flames to try to save the youngsters, authorities said.

The blaze broke out shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday in a two-story home nestled amid tall pines outside the village of Hoosick Falls, near the Vermont line, about 25 miles northeast of Albany.

Brian Decatur, 41, and his wife, Cheryl, 38, apparently escaped, but the husband ran back into the blazing house to try to save the children, said Fire Chief William Rifenburgh Jr.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, state police said. About 20 marijuana plants were recovered from the burned-out home.

Troopers identified the children as Cade May and Haley Decatur, both 8, and 2-year-old Gardin Decatur. Their bodies were found inside the home. The couple each had a child from a previous relationship and had Gardin together.

Cheryl Decatur was hospitalized Thursday for smoke inhalation, state police said.

Neighbors described Brian Decatur as a doting father who loved hunting and motorcycles.

"He was a family man," said Robert Stevens, who lives nearby. "He'd be carrying the kids, taking walks with them sometimes."

Sixteen marijuana plants were found in the basement, but State Trooper Maureen Tuffey said investigators do not believe the fire originated in the growing area and that Cheryl Decatur would not be charged.

"I think, taken into consideration that the woman lost her entire family, it seems like a small bone to pick," she said.