updated 4/25/2009 4:44:57 PM ET 2009-04-25T20:44:57

Fire broke out early Saturday in a home in southwestern Michigan, killing four young children and critically injuring two people, authorities said.

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that a 3-year-old girl and three boys — ages 4, 5 and 6 — were pronounced dead following the fire, which was reported around 7:45 a.m.

The office said a 5-year-old boy and a 22-year-old woman were in critical condition, and nine other people were treated and released.

Texas Township fire Chief Mike Corfman said several people were rescued from the ranch-style house.

"The firefighters that were here, what they did today — we had some real heroes here," Corfman said.

As firefighters went inside, he said, a neighbor put a ladder outside a bedroom window, and firefighters passed a child through the window to the neighbor on the ladder.

It wasn't know whether that child survived, Corfman said.

The front of the yellow, wood-framed house sustained the most damage. “The fire damage itself is basically confined to the front room,” Corfman said, but there was smoke and heat damage throughout the house.

Texas Township has about 13,000 residents and is about 135 miles west of Detroit.

Next-door neighbor George Socia, who wasn’t home at the time of the fire, said the young children periodically came over to visit him and his wife, but he didn’t know their parents well.

“They kept to themselves and we kept to ourselves,” Socia said, standing outside the home where he has lived for 49 years. He said his neighbors moved in a few years ago.

Names of the victims weren’t immediately released. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments