YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — An anguished mother, naked and bleeding, banged on the door of the house across the street and screamed for help in a fruitless plea to save her five children as a late-night fire swallowed their Ohio home, a neighbor said Monday.
Fire officials in Youngstown said the woman jumped from a second-story window and was the only survivor of the Sunday blaze that killed the children. They ranged in age from 1 to 9, the youngest being twins.
Neighbor Aaron Baldwin said by the time he awoke from the woman banging on his door, her house was engulfed in flames and there was no way for neighbors to rush inside.
"It was horrible. It was the worst thing you have to see," said Baldwin, 28, who also has five young children. "I'm seeing myself in her predicament."
Firefighters said the blaze swept through the old, two-story wood home after neighbors were awakened by a loud boom.
State and local investigators were just beginning to search for a cause of the deadly blaze, but fire officials said nothing so far indicates the fire was suspicious. Most of the damage was on the home's first floor, leading investigators to believe the fire started there, said Capt. Kurt Wright of the Youngstown Fire Department.
Firefighters found flames throughout the first floor when they arrived and were able to pull out three of the children, but they died at a hospital, Wright said.
Besides the twins, the children were ages 9, 3 and 2, Wright said.
The mother was taken to a hospital and is being treated for injuries, he said.
One firefighter also was taken to a hospital for treatment and released, and another was treated at the scene.
Neighbors said the family had moved into the house sometime this year.
The Mahoning County coroner's office hadn't publicly identified the victims by midday Monday as officials were still working to notify relatives.
Meanwhile, mourners piled stuffed animals beneath balloons in a makeshift memorial to honor the children outside the charred and boarded-up home.
Another neighbor, Jerry Fields, stopped by to drop off two stuffed animals.
"I needed to do something," said Fields, 68. "I didn't know what else to do."