Michigan House Fire Kills 4 Young Children

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A fire that apparently started after a father fell asleep while cooking killed his child and three other young children he was baby-sitting, authorities said.

The fire started at about 11 p.m. Saturday in the town house's kitchen, Fire Battalion Chief Andy Graves told The Flint Journal.

The man who was baby-sitting the four children, who were between the ages of 1 and 4 years old, apparently dozed off while cooking, Graves said. A neighbor saw smoke and flames coming from the home and banged on the door to wake the occupants.

The 28-year-old father was able to escape through a first-floor window, but none of the children got out, Graves said.

"It's pretty heartbreaking," Graves said.

Melinda Stewart, a neighbor whose three children were playmates of the children who were killed, said she called 911 in a panic.

"I was just screaming to 911, 'The babies are inside,"' Stewart said.

The fire was brought under control but flared up again early Sunday, destroying Stewart's apartment and possessions.

Fire Battalion Chief Theresa Root told WJRT-TV said it took fire crews seven minutes to arrive at the scene because a nearby firehouse had been closed because of budget cuts.

"Every 30 seconds fire doubles. And in three-to-four minutes, you can have a whole house, the structure of the house fully involved inside with flames," Root said.