A Montana man shot and killed his wife and three children, set a fire in the family's remote cabin and then killed himself, officials in Anaconda-Deer Lodge County said.

The shootings happened Sunday morning at a cabin in the forest about 15 miles southeast of the town of Deer Lodge, Police Chief Tim Barkell said.

Barkell was withholding the names of the victims and the shooter until other relatives could be notified.

Coroner Jerry Thomas told The Associated Press on Monday that the children's ages were 5, 4 and 1. The mother was 37, and the father was 59.

The shooter called a friend in Deer Lodge at about 10 a.m. Sunday to say he was going to kill his family and himself, Barkell said. The friend called 911.

Authorities responded from another nearby town, Anaconda, and it took them a while to find the cabin where the family lived, Barkell said.

"It appears he (the shooter) set the house on fire before killing himself," Barkell told The Montana Standard. "We could not enter because of the smoke and the heat inside. We had to wait for the fire departments."

The fire was contained within the cabin, he said.

Thomas transported the bodies to the state crime lab in Missoula on Sunday afternoon. All five were shot with a handgun, Barkell said.

He knew nothing about the family, saying the shootings were the "first dealings we've ever had with them."