HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (AP) — A couple and their two school-age boys were killed early Tuesday when a fire trapped them in their home in the Detroit enclave of Hamtramck, authorities and family members say.
Crews responded about 1:50 a.m. and the bodies were found upstairs in the two-story home, said Hamtramck fire Chief Paul Wilk.
The blaze was burning the rear of the home as firefighters arrived, he said, and crews worked in around zero-degree temperatures to extinguish it.
"This is very tragic for everyone," Wilk said. "And something where we have to worry about not only the family but the guys, the firefighters, and how it affects them in the future."
Authorities said the victims' names would not be released until Wednesday, but family members identified them to local media outlets as James and Freddye Parker, both 46; James Jr., 11; and Jarred, 7.
"They were just a great family," neighbor Ibrahim Aljahim told WDIV-TV. "They were just very gracious — very loving in the community."
Detroit PAL Athletic Director DeWayne Jones said the couple, who went by Randy and Dee, and their sons were active participants in football and other youth sports.
"Randy and Dee did a great job of going out and mobilizing that entire community around football, basketball and baseball," Jones said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Smoke still rose from the rear of the house several hours after the fire was put out, the home's windows blackened and its roof caved in. The ground was covered in snow or packed ice, which hindered firefighting.
"Everything freezes instantly," Wilk said. "So it becomes slippery. But once we get inside, we try to do our job and work through it. That's what we do."