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Detroit Fire Kills Four Children

April 7, 2000

ROYAL OAK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) _ An overnight house fire in suburban Detroit killed four children and a fifth was missing and presumed dead early today, authorities said.

Four other children were injured, Oakland County Sheriff’s Lt. Joe Quisenberry said. He said all were taken to Children’s Hospital in Detroit, but their conditions were not immediately available.

Dorothea Pullen, who lives next door, said she heard a ``popping″ noise just before midnight Thursday. She said when she looked outside, the porch of the two-story home was on fire.

``Everything was so intense. It was roaring all the way across the front of the house,″ Pullen said.

She said neighbors kicked down the back door and pulled a woman and four children from the home. Pullen said the woman and nine children lived in the lower apartment and two people lived upstairs.

Quisenberry confirmed that the woman and nine children lived in the home. Red Cross spokeswoman Melinda Shreve said the woman was put up at a hotel near the children’s hospital.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the fire, which destroyed the front half of the home and charred the rear. As authorities dug through the smoldering debris, two neighbors hugged each other and wept.

``It was like family in this neighborhood,″ said Gussie Mae Dade, sobbing. ``They were so good, so sweet ... the kids came down every day to see me.″

Freddie Craig described the neighborhood as close and very quiet.

``When I came home and saw, I couldn’t believe it,″ Craig said. ``I’m still shaking in my knees. I looked up and saw the flames and said `Oh my God, it can’t be, it can’t be those kids.″