POTTSVILLE, Pa. - Fire tore through a family's eastern Pennsylvania home late Mother's Day, authorities said, killing four young children, their father, and another relative while their mother was across the street doing laundry at a friend's house.
The blaze broke out about 11:55 p.m. Sunday at the single-family home in Pottsville. Firefighters later found all of the bodies on the third floor of the building, which sits on a steep hillside not far from the D.G. Yuengling & Son brewery, about 90 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
The fire was declared under control shortly before 1 a.m. State police fire marshals were sifting through the debris later Monday morning and authorities were searching for the cause of the blaze, which investigators say began in the kitchen.
The Schuylkill County Coroner's Office identified the victims as Eric Brown, 30; and his children, Elijah, 2; Emily, 3; Jeremiah, 7; and Joy, 8. Kristina Thomas, 26, also died in the fire. She is the sister of Kelly Brown, 28, the children's mother.
Kelly Brown had been doing laundry at a neighbor's house nearby at the time of the blaze because her washing machine was broken, according to the neighbor, Jennifer Purcell.
Purcell said they had smelled smoke, and Purcell went outside and saw the flames, telling Brown, "Oh my God, your house is on fire!"
They both ran up the street to the house, but weren't able to get inside, Purcell said.