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Detroit Fire Kills Five Children

April 7, 2000

ROYAL OAK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) _ An overnight house fire in suburban Detroit killed five children and injured four others, authorities said.

Police said a woman, her eight children and a niece were inside the house when the fire broke out late Thursday.

Three boys _ ages 6, 7 and 8 _ and two girls, ages 10 and 11, were killed, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said. The 10-year-old was the woman’s niece.

A 4-month-old girl and a 13-year-old boy, were listed in critical condition at Children’s Hospital in Detroit; a 2-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy were considered fine but were taken to William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak for observation, Bouchard said.

Sheriff’s Deputy Stephen Meech was among the first to arrive at the scene. He said he kicked in the door and he and a neighbor crawled in, where they found the woman lying just inside the door.

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.

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.″