CANTON, Ohio (AP) - Fire engulfed a house early Tuesday, killing
two adults and four children hours after some of them had put up a
Christmas tree, authorities said.
A seventh person, a 21-year-old woman, was in critical condition
in the burn unit at Akron Children's Hospital.
One victim, Donald Knight, ran into the house to try to rescue
his nephew and the others, said his brother, James Knight.
"The whole house was engulfed. The whole house was nothing but
red," James Knight said.
Investigators did not know what caused the fire, which took 40
minutes to extinguish. Authorities said they plan to investigate
whether holiday decorations or candles were involved.
Neighbors also tried to help after the fire started, including a
man who used a garden hose to spray the flames and another man who
tried to go inside but was turned back at the front porch steps,
residents said.
Joyce Hodous, who lives three houses down the street, said she
was awakened by yelling at about 4 a.m., after firefighters had
"There were children screaming to get out, 'Please, help me!"'
she said. Firefighters were already at the scene, she said.
Two adults and a child pulled from the first floor died at the
house, said Battalion Chief Raymond Harple. The three others, found
on the second floor, were pronounced dead at hospitals.
Besides Donald Knight, 43, and his nephew, Jerry Knight, 9, the
victims were identified as Dale Gross, 34; Leigha Gross, 10; Cally
Gross, 4; and Katlin Cavanaugh, 7 weeks. Authorities were trying to
determine the victims' relationships.
Jerry Knight was visiting the home, said his uncle, James
"They were all like family. We were all friends of the family.
We weren't biological, but we're all family," he said.
The home apparently had no smoke detectors, officials said.
In heavy rain, several weeping people placed teddy bears and
red, green and pink balloons near the house. A pink backpack lay on
a heap of charred debris.
Canton is 50 miles south of Cleveland in northeastern Ohio.

APTV 12-23-03 2207EST