updated 4/21/2005 1:29:46 PM ET 2005-04-21T17:29:46

Flames roared through a mobile home, killing five young boys and the mother of two of them as anguished neighbors tried in vain to help. No one escaped.

Investigators did not know how the blaze began Wednesday evening. A neighbor said he heard two explosions. State police spent much of Thursday morning going through the home’s electrical junction box.

Flames had already engulfed the mobile home when firefighters arrived, and little of it was left beyond structural supports surrounded by corrugated-metal skirts. Furnishings were burned or charred beyond recognition. Scattered in the yard were toy trucks and books including one called “Brave Little Bunny.”

As the investigators worked Thursday, the parents of 3-year-old Wesley Whiteside and 23-month-old Steven Whiteside walked up to a police barrier to look at what remained of the trailer, which sat on a lot in a neighborhood of small, one-story frame houses.

John Whiteside clutched a cigarette in one hand and a Mountain Dew soda in the other, and a police officer walked up and hugged him. Rachel Whiteside, a few steps back, screamed, “Oh, my babies! My babies are gone!”

Also killed were Amanda Clemons, 23; her sons Dakota, 4, and Edison Ray, 3; and Aiden Joe Richter, 8 months.

Roy Bronson, a former firefighter who lives four doors down, said he felt two explosions and reached the burning home before firefighters.

'I heard them screaming'
“I heard them screaming,” he said. “She talked to me, she said ‘Please help me.’ I said ‘Amanda, get down and crawl.’ She said, ‘I can’t. The fire has got me.”’

Another neighbor used a wooden plank to break through a locked door, Bronson said, but “when that door come open and the smoke and heat hit me in the face, I couldn’t go no more.”

Schools were closed Thursday in Humphrey, a town of about 800 people about 40 miles southeast of Little Rock.

Officials had initially feared that other children might also have died, but state police Sgt. Ron Stayton said no more bodies were found after thorough searches of the debris.

Rachel Whiteside told KTHV-TV of Little Rock that the flames broke out about 10 minutes after she had dropped her boys off for a play date.

“If there are any young parents out there, love every minute, every second with your child,” she said. “Tell them every day that you love them, because in seconds, they are gone, just like that.”

Bronson said he had trouble sleeping afterward.

“I could hear those kids screaming,” he said. “I heard the kids crying through the door.”

© 2013 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