Five Young Siblings Killed in Missouri House Fire

Fire destroyed a house Thursday in southeast Missouri, killing five young siblings and injuring three adults, authorities said.

Eighteen people were in the two-story house about 4:30 a.m. when the children's grandmother awoke and screamed for everyone to get out, said Police Chief Michael Tomlinson. The children who died, ages 1 through 7, were in an upstairs bedroom that was inaccessible because of smoke and flames.

The house had no smoke detectors, Tomlinson said. A cause had not been determined.

The victims were identified as Antonio Amerson, 7; Jerome Finley Jr., 5; Destiny Kinnon, 3; Malik Marquan Amerson, 2; and Shayla Adrianna Amerson, 21 months.

Treated and released were the children's mother, 26-year-old Kandince Kinnon; the father of three of the children, Rufus Amerson Jr., 32; and another relative, Toni Wynne, 19, officials said.

Among the survivors was the older sibling of the five children who died. Wynne threw the child to safety from an upstairs window.

The mother said she tried to re-enter the house to rescue her children but was stopped by flames at the front door.

"I tried to get back to them, but I couldn't," she told KFVS-TV.

The 18 people in the house were two grandparents, two daughters, 12 grandchildren, Rufus Amerson and a family friend, Tomlinson said.

Karen Farley, principal at South Pemiscot Elementary School, said she believed Kinnon had moved in with her parents after a storm damaged her home in April.

Steele, population 2,300, is about 190 miles south of St. Louis.