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Five Children Killed In House Fire

January 10, 1987

ERIE, Pa. (AP) _ Fire engulfed a small frame house early today, killing five young children in upstairs bedrooms that firefighters could not quickly reach because a stairwell door had no knob, authorities said.

Two older children, their mother and their 79-year-old blind grandmother escaped the fire unhurt, firefighters said. The mother was rescued from a collapsing porch roof.

″The roof fell partially through, but they pulled her out and carried her down the ladder,″ said Deputy Fire Chief Harold Amann.

He said the fire apparently started in the kitchen and was ″coming out all over″ by the time firefighters arrived.

Unable to get in the upstairs windows, firefighters entered the first floor but thick smoke made it hard to find the closed-off stairway, said Amann and firefighter Gilbert Munz.

″You look for open staircase,″ said Munz. ″This door didn’t have a doorknob. It was like a wall.″

Once upstairs, he said, ″We were on our hands and knees, and we located four in one room, and one in a back room.″

″Guys were taking their air masks off and giving them to the kids,″ Amann said. ″Five guys took the five kids down one at a time, and the stairs were in such bad shape that the last guy rolled down the stairs with his air tank on and the kid in his arms.″

Amann said he did not know whether the children would have survived if the stairway had been open.

The dead children, all members of the Poston family, were identified as Lionel, 2, Tressa, 3, Tareena, 4, Avrey, 5, and Avian, 11. Attempts to revive them at two hospitals failed.

The grandmother, Lucille Poston, was in a first-floor bedroom near a door and was able to escape, Amann said. The other survivors were identified as Carrie Poston, 30, and her children Tanesha, 14, and Tenarra, 8.

The blaze, which was reported at 12:52 a.m., was brought under control about 30 minutes later. The cause was under investigation.

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