Investigators may need at least a week before they can determine what caused a house fire on a Pennsylvania dairy farm that killed seven children, a state police official said Thursday.
Police Lt. Myra Taylor said investigators could not discuss any aspect of the probe into the fire that had already consumed the two-story house before firefighters arrived.
The children's grandfather, Noah Sauder, has told The Associated Press that he thinks the blaze may have started in the kitchen, where the family used a propane heater.
The victims ranged in age from 7 months to 11 years. One child, a 3-year-old girl, escaped. The Perry County coroner said the children died of smoke inhalation in Tuesday night's fire, which police say started while their mother milked cows in a nearby barn and their father was down the road making rounds in a milk truck.
The charred and gutted home sits in a cluster of houses between villages just off a two-lane highway in central Pennsylvania's rolling dairy country.
Funeral services will likely be next week, funeral director James F. Nickel said Thursday.
The service will be at a Mennonite meeting hall in the nearby village of Green Park, and burial will be at the Church of the Living Christ of Loysville, where the family attends services, Nickel said.
Ted Clouse had left two of his children, ages 2 and 3, watching television around 10 p.m. Tuesday when he went to begin his milk rounds, police said. He was pumping milk at a dairy farm a mile or two away when the fire started.
The 3-year-old daughter smelled smoke and ran to get her mother, who tried to get into the house, police said. Janelle Clouse then ran to the homes of two neighbors to get someone to call 911 before going with the child to get her husband, police said.
Firefighters reached the farmhouse before the parents returned, police said.