ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – A fire broke out in a home early Saturday, killing four children and two adults and injuring one person, according to the St. Joseph Fire Department.
There were no smoke alarms in the home, which was destroyed, said Fire Inspector Steve Henrichson.
"I guarantee the family would have got out alive if they'd just had one working smoke alarm," Henrichson said.
The victims were identified as Lisa L. Riggs, 38; her mother, Patricia A. Duryee, 61; and brothers Kealan V. Riggs, 8; Tristan J. Riggs, 11; and Sean Patrick Fox, 16; and a cousin, Brandon Lee Updegraff, 10, who was staying at the house for the night, said Sgt. Fritz Adams of the St. Joseph Police Department.
Riggs' husband, Bryan P. Riggs, 39, survived by jumping out of a second-story window at the home, said Anthony Lopez, who was Duryee's nephew.
Another brother of the victims, Brandon Fox, 17, was staying at a friend's house when the fire broke out overnight, Lopez said.
Lopez said Bryan Riggs, who was hospitalized with minor burns and smoke inhalation, said that he thought his wife and children were out of the four-bedroom, two-story home when he jumped from the window.
"Lisa was ahead of him, he didn't see her, he thought she had made it out," he said.
The fire was devastating to the relatives of the blended family, Lopez said.
"Right now I'm trying to hold it together the best I can," he said. "Dad (Patricia Duryee's brother) and I have had crying sessions throughout the day. Blood didn't matter in this family, love mattered."
Six animals, including two large dogs, also died in the fire.
Fire Department investigators were continuing to search for a cause for the slow-burning fire that was largely contained on the first floor. Henrichson said it appeared to have started in a first-floor room, on the front west side of the house, near an electrical outlet where a window air-conditioning unit was plugged in.
All six victims were found on the second floor, said Capt. Kevin Castle, a spokesman for the St. Joseph Police Department.
The fire call went out at 5:32 a.m. and eight units with 23 firefighters and four staff ended up at the scene. The fire was out by about 6:30 a.m., although firefighters had to re-enter the home at about 9:20 a.m. after a hot spot was discovered in the attic above the second floor, Henrichson said.
Crime scene investigators arrived on the scene about 7 a.m. and cordoned off the area in front of the house.
As word spread of the fire, friends of the family and classmates of the boys drifted toward the home. Angela Hedding said the two younger boys who died in the fire used to spend the night with Hedding and her son.
"Thank God, my son wasn't there last night," Hedding said.