updated 9/23/2004 9:52:30 AM ET 2004-09-23T13:52:30

A predawn house fire killed five relatives Thursday as firefighters had trouble getting into the home because its windows were covered with burglar bars and plywood storm shutters, officials said.

Two adults and three children were found inside the burning house after firefighters arrived around 1:45 a.m., Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue Lt. Eugene Germain said. Four people died at the scene and one died on the way to a hospital, he said.

The victims apparently died of smoke inhalation because the fire did not breach the bedroom, where they all were possibly sleeping, Germain said.

The blaze started in the living room, but investigators were trying to determine what sparked it, Germain said. The house didn’t have smoke alarms, so the victims may not have even known there was a fire, he said. The victims’ identities and exact relations were not immediately available.

Homestead is in southern Miami-Dade, where some people have left up storm shutters because of the three hurricanes that have hit Florida this year.

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