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Family of 5 Believed Dead in Fire

February 20, 1998

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) _ A family of five, with three children under the age of 6, is believed dead after an early morning fire gutted a three-family home.

Firefighters recovered five bodies with the help of a crane and a search dog after the home collapsed early Thursday. But authorities had not officially identified the dead.

Second-floor neighbor Roger Swire escaped with his girlfriend and 7-year-old son but went back after he heard children’s voices on the first floor.

``I couldn’t get to them at all. It was too smoky in the house,″ Swire said. ``I tried to save them. I tried to do the best I could. I loved those kids with all my heart.″

Authorities said they believed the family _ both parents and three children age 2 to 6 _ were at home when the three-story house collapsed.

Three tenants escaped the flames, along with four people from a neighboring house that also caught fire.

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