Video: Seven children die in farmhouse blaze

  1. Transcript of: Seven children die in farmhouse blaze

    MATT LAUER, co-host: The cause of a tragic farmhouse fire in Pennsylvania is now under investigation this morning. Seven children were killed. State police say their mother was in a nearby barn milking cows. Their -- and her husband was asleep in his truck at the time. Trooper Tom Pinkerton is with us now by phone. Trooper Pinkerton , good morning to you.

    State Trooper TOM PINKERTON (Loysville, Pennsylvania): Good morning, sir.

    LAUER: What else can you tell us about them? I mean, this is unbelievable. Seven children, seven months old to 11 years, what else can you tell us?

    Trooper PINKERTON: Well, this is a real tragic incident that occurred. What we know is that shortly after 10:00 last evening, a three-year-old ran into the barn where her mother was milking cows and she alerted her mother to the fact that there was smoke billowing inside of the residence. At that time the mother ran from the barn and when she got outside she saw that their house was on fire. Unfortunately there were seven children in the residence. We know that she attempted to make entry into the residence but was unable to. Once she was unable to make entry into the residence she ran across the road to a

    neighbor's......nobody answered, so she went to a second neighbor's house. Somebody there answered and at that time 911 was called.

    LAUER: Trooper Pinkerton , is it clear where the father was at this time? I was reading an AP report this morning that said he was asleep in a milk delivery truck about a mile away. What can you tell me about that?

    Trooper PINKERTON: Well, shortly after 10:00 the father did leave the residence and he does drive a milk truck. And as a matter of practice, it's my understanding that he leaves around that time throughout the week. He did. He drove down the road a short distance away to a second stop that he normally makes and I guess while he was waiting to perform his job he nodded off in the truck. And after the -- after his wife contacted the neighbor and the 911 call was made, she went down there knowing that he was going to be there and she awoke him and alerted him to the fact that there was a fire at his house at which time he rushed back. You know, and again, we're talking a short distance away.

    LAUER: Right.

    Trooper PINKERTON: So when he got there the fire department was already there and the house was engulfed with flames.

    LAUER: And just quickly, if you can, any early cause of this fire? Anything that investigators have been able to determine might have caused it?

    Trooper PINKERTON: No. I'll tell you. We have a couple fire marshals from the state police on scene and they're working diligently to find a cause and origin. But it's a daunting task in any fire investigation . And then you have the seven children that, you know, are deceased inside. So it's definitely a real tough scene to work right now.

    LAUER: It's a horrible story. Trooper Pinkerton , I appreciate your time this morning. Our thoughts and prayers are with that family.

    Trooper PINKERTON: You're welcome, sir.

    MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: Nothing to say but it's such a tragedy.

NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 3/9/2011 8:37:38 AM ET 2011-03-09T13:37:38

A fire at a farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania killed seven children while their mother was in a barn milking cows and their dad was taking a nap in a delivery truck, a state trooper said Wednesday.

NBC News reported that six girls, aged 11, 9, 6, 4, 2 and 7 months, and a 7-year-old boy died. One child, aged three, survived.

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WHTM-TV reported that the family were Mennonites.

Tom Pinkerton, the state trooper, said the fire erupted Tuesday night in Blain, which is located about 20 miles north of Harrisburg in Perry County.

The family's father had left the two-story home, on a working farm in dairy country, to get his truck around 10 p.m. Tuesday, Pinkerton added.

Two children, aged 2 and 3, were watching television at the time. The child who survived smelled smoke in the home and ran to the barn to alert the mother, Pinkerton said.

Pinkerton, speaking on NBC's TODAY show on Wednesday, said she tried to enter the house but was unable to get in.

"Once she was unable to make entry into the residence, she ran across the road to a neighbor's house," Pinkerton said. "Nobody answered, so she went to a second neighbor's house. Somebody there answered and at that time 911 was called."

She then ran with the child to the father's truck and banged on its windows, screaming that their home was on fire, he said. WHTM-TV reported that police said the truck was nearly a mile away.

The father was on a milk delivery run and had pulled over on his second stop, Pinkerton told TODAY. "I guess while he was waiting to perform his job, he nodded off in the truck."

By the time he returned to the home, it was fully engulfed by flames, Pinkerton said. He said earlier that the Perry County coroner ruled the children died of smoke inhalation.

No cause or origin of the fire had been determined. Fire marshals were investigating.

"It's definitely a tough scene to work right now," Pinkerton said.

NBC News reported that state police had no reason to suspect foul play.

Due to incorrect information provided by The Associated Press, this article initially stated that the incident occurred in Blaine, Pa.

NBC News, msnbc.com staff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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