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Fire Traps, Kills Five Children in Tennessee

November 22, 1988

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (AP) _ Five children tried in vain to escape through windows and doors, but a fire at their home trapped and killed them early Tuesday, authorities said.

The youngsters, including 3-year-old twins, apparently died of smoke inhalation after they were awakened but blocked by smoke and flames, authorities said.

″They were in the process of trying to get out. All of them were,″ said Fire Capt. R.L. Hambrick. ″They were all close to a door or a window, trying to find a way to get out, but when you’re asleep and your house is full of heat and smoke like that you get disoriented, and you’re talking about 3 year olds.″

Killed were twins Stephen and Stephanie Baumgartner, 15-year-old Christopher Baumgartner, 12-year-old Amy Todaro and 7-year-old Guy Todaro, Fire Chief Bill Carter said.

The Baumgartner children were sleeping at the 90-year-old Todaro home, police officer Danny Hilbert said. Samuel and Eleanor Todaro, parents of the other youngsters, were asleep downstairs in the two-story house and escaped unharmed.

The parents could not rescue the children because the only staircase was in flames, Carter said. Firefighters had the same problem, he said.

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