SYRACUSE, N.Y. – A predawn fire quickly engulfed a two-story house Friday, killing a couple's four grandchildren, a son and a nephew, authorities and family said.
Lawrence and Phyllis Anderton told the Syracuse Post-Standard that their son Kevin Anderton Sr. called them after he discovered his home on Syracuse's north side was on fire. Kevin's children, 13-year-old Kevin Jr. and 7-year-old Cassie, died in the blaze, and his wife was hospitalized, the couple said.
The couple's other son, 34-year-old Gordon Anderton, also died in the fire, along with his children, 12-year-old Lawrence and 10-year-old Jacob, they said.
William Yager, 33, was Lawrence Anderton's nephew and the final victim, Lawrence Anderton said.
The Andertons stood in the rain Friday afternoon outside the charred house. They talked to some of the friends and neighbors who had brought balloons and flowers to the scene, then left with the family dog, Mugsy, who had escaped the flames to hide in the garage.
The blaze was reported at around 3:50 a.m. When firefighters arrived just minutes after receiving a 911 call, the front of the house was engulfed in flames, officials said.
Fire Chief Paul Linnertz said firefighters were attempting to enter the front of the home when the porch roof collapsed, forcing them to retreat.
"So they had to back out and find another way into the house," Linnertz said.
Firefighters used ladders to enter the second floor, where they found four bodies. Two others were found downstairs.
The flames were put out about 30 minutes later.
Sebira Pehlic told The Syracuse Post-Standard that she "heard a boom" about an hour after returning home from work at 3 a.m. She looked out a window and saw smoke and flames coming from a house four doors away.
Pehlic says the fire spread quickly. A photo she took shows a wall of flames shooting from the front of the house.
Fire officials earlier released the ages of the victims but not their names. Investigators are working to determine the cause of the blaze and where it started.