MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Five children, a teenager and a mother died Saturday in a fire that engulfed a Memphis home, witnesses and fire officials said.
Memphis Fire Department Lt. Keith Staples said two teenagers and an 11-year-old boy escaped and were hospitalized in stable condition.
The cause was under investigation, and authorities were unsure how the survivors escaped, Staples said.
Next-door neighbor Lamar Boyce, who said he was awakened by the victims' cries for help, said two of the survivors escaped by jumping from a second-story window of the burning home.
Authorities did not immediately release identities or ages of the victims.
Relatives, including the twin sister of the woman who died, gathered on a nearby sidewalk hugging and sobbing.
They identified the mother as Melissa Poole, 38, and said she lived in the home with her four children. A niece and nephew were visiting when the fire broke out, they said.
Alicia Bradley, 31, who said she is Poole's cousin and was speaking on behalf of the family, said three girls, ages 7, 4 and 9, two boys, ages 1 and 4, and an 18-year-old male, were killed.
The two-story brick and wood-frame house in a low-income neighborhood went up in flames at about 5:30 a.m., Staples said.
Lorenzo Williams, who lives just down the street, said he and several other neighbors rushed to the burning house but could not get in because of flames and smoke.
"You could hear them screaming, but there was nothing you could do," Williams said.
The top floor of the house was heavily damaged and pieces of the collapsed roof and ceiling covered much of the bottom back floor of the residence.
Most of the victims were found "in the same area, on the first floor at the rear," Staples said.
The causes of death were not immediately known, Staples said, "but the bodies did appear to have some severe burns."