PRECEDE Little Rock
Undated (AP) _ Neighbors pulled a 12-year-old girl from a burning home in Georgia in which her parents and sister were killed Sunday, while a woman and two girls died and two people were seriously injured in a blaze in Arkansas the night before.
The victims of the house fire near Marietta, just northwest of Atlanta, were found lying near a back door and ″lacked only a few feet from getting out,″ said Sgt. Nickie Rich of the county Fire Department.
He identified the dead as Roy O. Rechsteiner, 38, his wife, Francis 36, and their daughter, Kristi, 5.
The couple’s 12-year-old daughter, Jan, escaped uninjured after neighbors heard an explosion, rushed to the house and led her out, Rich said. The couple’s other child, a 14-year-old son, was spending the night away from home.
Investigators believed the fire early Sunday started from a cigarette in a chair in the living room, Rich said. The explosion apparently resulted from propane tanks, gunpowder and ammunition reloading equipment in the house, he said.
Rich said the house was gutted. Damage was estimated at $45,000.
The blaze in Little Rock, Ark., was sparked by a short-circuit in an extension cord, a fire official said Sunday.
″We determined it began in the living room behind a couch. We found the remains of a lamp with an extension cord that had at least a couple of splices in it,″ Fire Marshal Jim Wroten said of the Saturday night fire.
He said the cord ran through a wall of the one-story frame house into the kitchen and was attached to several appliances.
″It was about 10 or 12 feet from the lamp to where it was plugged in, and this cord ran all the way into the kitchen and was really loaded,″ he said. ″It was a real small extension cord, and the longer you run those things, the worse they are.″
Officials identified those killed in the blaze as Lynn Gordon, 37, Cynthia Watson, 3, and Stephanie Watson, 7.
Leslie Watson, 10, a sister of the dead girls, was hospitalized in serious condition, said Jessica Szenher, a spokeswoman for Arkansas Childrens’ Hospital.
Lafayette Johnson, 57, the children’s grandfather, was listed in serious condition at the University of Arkansas Medical Center on Sunday, a nursing supervisor said.
A sixth occupant of the house, Darlene Watson, mother of the three girls, was not home at the time of the fire, Wroten said. Officials did not know if Ms. Gordon was related to the Watson family.