LANCASTER, Pa. — A blaze that erupted early Thursday at a central Pennsylvania home killed four people, including two children, and left three other residents critically injured, authorities said. Investigators believe unattended food caused the fire.
The fire started in the kitchen of a three-story Lancaster duplex at about 3 a.m. after frozen potatoes were placed in the oven, fire officials said. One victim was identified by fire authorities and a relative as the homeowner, 65-year-old Jimmie Moore.
"Rest in peace, Dad," one of Moore's daughters, Cyrena Brock, 34, told The (Lancaster) Intelligencer Journal. "He was a hero to me."
A man in his early 40s was pronounced dead at the scene, while two children died later at Lancaster General Hospital, Fire Chief Timothy Gregg said.
Three people were transferred to the burn center at Crozer Chester Medical in critical condition, while one person was admitted to the hospital in serious condition, a nursing supervisor at Lancaster General Hospital said. Several other people were treated and released.
Two other children were rescued and taken to the hospital. Gregg said all the children ranged in age from 2 to 8 years old, but he wouldn't give the ages of the two who died.
County coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni said autopsies on the four victims are scheduled for Friday
Fourteen members of several families lived in the home, which didn't have smoke detectors, Gregg said. Fire crews got the flames under control in about an hour, he said.
Neighbors and relatives described Moore as a generous man and Vietnam War veteran who let another family move in after they lost their own housing.
"He was a very friendly man," neighbor Molly Lalla told the newspaper. "He would walk down the alley and say hi and wave. He brought a box of toys to my kids."
Ken Sheetz said Moore was the first one to welcome him to the block when he moved there.
"He was a caring person," Sheetz said. "He loved his family."