LEBANON, Mo. — The parents of three children who died along with two of their cousins in a southern Missouri mobile home fire said they still aren't able to grasp what has happened.
The children died Wednesday in a mobile home fire in Lebanon. A 20-year-old woman who was the mother of the other two children remains hospitalized with severe burns.
Kelley Hunt and Audrianna Middlesworth's children — Ethan, 5; Maeanna, 2; and Benjamin Hunt, 1, — were staying at the mobile home with 6-month-old Patience and 1-year-old Andre Malleck, who were the children of Hunt's brother, The Kansas City Star reported .
Hunt said he was called Wednesday to come home for an emergency and was originally told his children were hospitalized. After a frantic rush through a hospital looking for his children, he returned to the mobile home and was told his children had died.
Middlesworth, who is separated from Hunt, said Thursday that she still can't believe the news.
"But the proof's there," she said, motioning toward the charred remains of a home where her children primarily lived with Hunt and his girlfriend.
Hunt said the mother of the other two children, who was babysitting when the fire broke out, suffered burns over 75 percent of her body and had not regained consciousness.
"She doesn't even know they passed away," he said. "She was unconscious the whole time, and my brother doesn't know how to break it to her when she wakes up."
"And I still think this is a joke. ... I feel like I'm just going to wake up at any time."
The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, Lebanon Fire Chief Sam Schneider said Thursday.
Several firefighters fell through the floor while fighting the blaze, with four suffering minor injuries. Schneider confirmed the first firefighter on scene entered the burning building through a window to try and save the children but was pushed back by the flames and smoke.
"He did what we're trained to do, what we're called to do," the chief said. "He took every effort he could to try to locate the victims."