(Reuters) - Five children and their mother were killed early on Wednesday when fire engulfed their rural Texas home about 100 miles east northeast of Houston, Hardin County Sheriff Mark Davis said.
Firefighters responded to an alarm shortly after midnight and discovered the bodies as they put out the blaze, which destroyed the home, Davis said.
"Tough situation, really a horrific scene here and just so sad that we’re dealing with six victims at a house fire," Davis told Beaumont television station KFDM shortly after the fire had been put out.
The identities of the mother and the children, who ranged in age from 3 to 11 and included a set of 4-year-old twins, were being withheld pending notification of other family members, he said.
Davis told Reuters by phone that investigators expected to have their preliminary findings on the fire's cause later on Wednesday.
The tragedy took a toll on the close-knit community, especially the firefighters who answered the call, he said.
“It’s one thing to have a fatality, and it's one thing to have a fatality of a child, but to have multiple child victims, that’s mentally just devastating for the first responders," Davis said.
(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Steve Orlofsky)