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Five Die In Illinois House Fire; Four Children Killed In Texas

March 9, 1987

Undated (AP) _ A stove fire was blamed for the deaths of a 33-year-old woman and four children in Illinois on Sunday, while four of eight children left alone died when a blaze swept through a Texas house.

Gale Hoskins and her three daughters died as they slept in their Springfield, Ill., home, authorities said. A nephew died after collapsing in the kitchen while trying to flee, and a fifth child escaped uninjured.

″I have to believe that had they had a smoke detector, it may have resulted in saving their lives,″ said Fire Chief Tom Armstead.

In Greenville, Texas, three children - ranging in age from 4 to 10 - escaped the house fire and ran to a neighbor’s home for help. Cause of that fire, reported just before midnight Saturday, has not been determined, said Fire Chief Dorsey Driggers.

Gloria Mitchell, a Hunt County justice of the peace, said the children’s mothers, sisters Teresa Anderson and Brenda Ann Jones, reported leaving the youngsters alone for about 30 minutes while they went to a brother’s house.

The sisters returned shortly after firefighters began recovering bodies, authorities said.

Ms. Mitchell said the four children died from burns and smoke inhalation. They were identified as Tobias Anderson, 6; Alexis Anderson, 2; LaQuinta Jones, 9; and Carmilia Jones, 5.

One-year-old Bobbie Jean Anderson was in critical condition Sunday in Parkland Burn Center in Dallas.

The Illinois fire was discovered by 11-year-old Arizona Hoskins, who woke up to use the bathroom, said Sangamon County Coroner Norman Richter.

″When she got to the kitchen there was a pan on fire on the stove,″ Richter said. ″She immediately left the apartment to use a neighbor’s phone, but the fire and smoke moved quickly.″

Flames were pouring out a window when firefighters arrived about 2:15 a.m. Sunday.

The building was a two-story home that had been remodeled into at least five apartments. Residents of the other apartments either fled or were not home, said Fire Chief Tom Armstead.

The bodies of Ms. Hoskins and her daughters Jamaica, 4, Algeria, 6, and Germany, 8, were found in two bedrooms, Richter said. The body of Ms. Hoskins’ nephew, 3-year-old Greg Spencer, was in the kitchen, a few feet from the front door, he said.

Ms. Hoskins and Germany died of smoke inhalation, Richter said, while Jamaica, Algeria and the boy died of smoke inhalation and burns.

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