HARTSVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Firefighters racing to stamp out a mobile home fire Wednesday met with flames shooting from windows as a woman and others looking on pleaded for them to save four young children inside, witnesses told investigators. All four children, including twin girls, perished.
It took firefighters less than 10 minutes to put out the fire once they arrived and after entering the charred, single-wide home, they found the bodies of the twin 1-year-old girls and their brothers ages 3 and 4, authorities said.
The mother was so distraught it took hours to calm her. Investigators still aren't sure where she was when the fire started, Darlington County Sheriff Wayne Byrd said.
"Right now we can't say whether she was inside or not," Byrd said.
Authorities were keeping everyone but investigators far from the home Wednesday evening near Hartsville, a city of some 8,000 people about 60 miles east of the state capital of Columbia.
"Our hearts are heavy for these four young children. God have mercy on their souls. We did everything possible to save them," Hartsville Mayor Mel Pennington said in a statement.
A photograph tweeted by the sheriff showed the outside of the home seemingly relatively undamaged, while the inside looked charred. A tricycle and another children's toy could be seen in the yard. Smoke could still be seen wafting from an open front door, fire hoses snaking inside.
The burned-out home was just outside of Hartsville city limits, but city firefighters fought the blaze.