Two young brothers died early Monday after fire engulfed their family's home just east of Summit Lake in South Akron.
Trent Meador, 2, and Tyler Meeker, 7 months, were pulled from a smoke-filled, upstairs bedroom but couldn't be saved once they reached the hospital.
They were pronounced dead a minute apart in the emergency room at Akron Children's Hospital.
''These are our worst days,'' said Douglas Ott, a district chief with the Akron Fire Department. ''Anything involving kids is very tough. We have young firemen with families, and they take it very hard.''
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, though foul play is not suspected. The blaze started shortly before 8 a.m. in the front room of the family's home in the 1200 block of Victory Street.
Fire Lt. Al Bragg said the family was upstairs asleep when the mother, Melinda Meeker, was awakened by the smoke alarm. She headed downstairs, where she saw the arm of a chair and part of a wall on fire.
The woman, who is pregnant, then yelled upstairs to her husband, D.J. Meeker, to hurry and get the boys and leave the house, Bragg said. The father grabbed his sons and rushed downstairs, but was met with heavy smoke and heat.
He returned to the upstairs bedroom and went to climb out a window. He reached back for his sons, but couldn't find them in the thick smoke, Bragg said.
Neighbors, who alerted firefighters, saw flames and smoke rolling out of the windows downstairs.
Some from the neighborhood rushed to the burning house to see if they could help. They saw the mother out on the street and the father climbing through an upstairs window and onto the roof.
As the neighbors watched helplessly, the father jumped down into the yard.
''He yelled 'Call 911 -- my kids are up there!' '' neighbor Roland Greene said.
Greene, who lives on nearby Lloyd Street, phoned for help. He said he and others considered running into the house and trying to rescue the boys, but they didn't think they could get through the flames and smoke.
''If I could've went in there, I would've went in there,'' Greene said. ''The whole downstairs was engulfed.... I felt helpless.''
Firefighters arrived within minutes and managed to get inside the house to the children. The boys were taken to Children's Hospital and their parents to Akron General Medical Center.
Bragg said he did not know the parents' conditions except that they were ''conscious and alert.''
Trent and Tyler's aunt, Chris Riley, described the boys as ''happy and upbeat.'' She said the last time she saw them was Friday and that she was supposed to baby-sit them Sunday night but didn't.
''Now I feel bad, because I could've seen them,'' she said.
Damage to the family's home and its contents was estimated at $30,000.
Ott said the fire was extinguished before it reached the upstairs, but there was heavy smoke and heat throughout the house.
A benevolent fund was set up for the family at FirstMerit Bank. Contributions can be made at any branch.
The family had only lived in the tan frame house since the beginning of the month. Neighbors, although not that acquainted with the family, still felt for their loss.
''I never got to know them, but... it's a tragedy,'' said Roberta Greene, who lives next door to where the fire occurred and is Roland Greene's sister. ''I feel bad for the kids. They were just little tots.''
Distributed by the Associated Press