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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, authorities said.

Four other children were injured. Two were listed in critical condition at Children’s Hospital in Detroit, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said. Two were taken to William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak for observation, he said.

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.

Authorities confirmed that the women lived in the home with nine children. Four of the dead children were siblings, Bouchard said. The fifth was the woman’s niece.

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.″