(WARWICK, Mass.) — A mother and four children were killed when flames swept through their rural Massachusetts home early Saturday, fire officials said.
Two other family members escaped the fire, which broke in the single-family house at about 12:45 a.m. Investigators said initial indications were the blaze was accidental and possibly started in a wood stove in the kitchen.
The bodies of the victims were recovered in the rubble of the home several hours later after the fire was extinguished, authorities said.
“There was nothing we could have done different, unfortunately,” an emotional Fire Chief Ron Gates said during an afternoon news conference. “When we got on scene, the house was totally engulfed.”
The town of less than 800 residents in Franklin County, in the northwestern part of the state, has no fire hydrants and firefighters had to draw water from a source about a half-mile from the fire scene, said Gates, who fought back tears while speaking to reporters.
Crews were also hampered by bitter cold temperatures that caused equipment to freeze and made it difficult for firefighters to keep their footing. At least 16 area fire departments helped battle the blaze.
State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey said the names and ages of the victims would be released after formal identification by the state fire marshal and notification of next of kin. State and local fire officials were investigating along with the Northwestern District Attorney.
The two people who escaped the fire, believed to be an adult and a child, were taken to a hospital in Keene, New Hampshire, with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.
“The community has suffered a great loss of life, a huge blow to our spirit that we are only starting to realize,” said David Young, Warwick’s town coordinator.
Young said the town was coming together to mourn the loss and respond to the tragedy.