Seven children were killed in a tragic fire that ripped through a Pennsylvania farmhouse while their mother was milking cows and their father napped nearby, officials said Wednesday.
A 3-year-old girl survived the blaze in rural Blain, Pa., near Harrisburg. The children who perished - six girls and a boy - ranged in age from seven months to 11 years old.
Early reports described the family as Mennonite - as the area is home to many Amish and Mennonite families - but authorities later said they were not.
Officials said the children died of smoke inhalation.
The cause of the blaze was not immediately known, but the children's grandfather, Noah Sauder, said the fire began in the kitchen where the family had a propane heater.
Pennsylvania State Police said the children's father, Theodore Clouse, had left the home late Tuesday evening to prepare the dairy farm's delivery truck.
After picking up milk about a mile away from the home, the man nodded off, said Trooper Tom Pinkerton.
The 3-year-old girl, who had been watching television with a 2-year-old sibling, then smelled smoke and ran to find her mother, Janelle Clouse.
"While mom's milking cows, her 3-year-old daughter comes running into the barn and the 3-year-old tells the mother that there's smoke inside the house," Pinkerton said.
"Mom leaves the barn, comes running out and sees the house appears to be on fire."
She then ran to her neighbors and frantically asked them to call 911.
Neighbor Deana Doran said she awakened around 11 p.m. by her barking dog and heard the Clouse yelling "Hello! Hello!"
Clouse then found her husband sleeping in the truck, and they rushed back to the house, which was by that time fully engulfed in flames.
Sauder said the parents were talking with workers on the farm to help cope with the tragedy.
"It's really hard, I'm sure," Sauder said.
One neighbor said the family had lived in the home about four years.
"You wonder why does this have to happen," Ray Zimmerman said, adding that the children's father told him "he's trying to keep moving so he doesn't have to think about it. We know he has a battle."