New York Family Devastated as Fire Sweeps Home, Kills Six

Blaze claims lives of woman's 4 kids, grandson, friend


Rivera's usually quiet toy rat terrier woke the house with his barking shortly after 5 a.m. Moments later, she and her children heard pounding on the door downstairs and Nancy Self yelling, "Call 911! The kids are in the house!"

They called police before running into their shared back yard, hollering the names of the children. Self's hands and arms were black with soot, and they could feel the heat from the fire all around their homes.

Two houses down, the Keenan twins heard the screams, leaped out of bed and raced to the burning house. Eric Keenan put his right fist through the kitchen window and screen, and yelled into the fire, choking on smoke. He cut his forearm, and later needed 11 stitches to close the wound. John put his fist through the back screen but couldn't force the door open.

Smoke kept four police officers from the house. Firefighters had to dampen the flames on the front porch before they could enter the building.

"The firefighters couldn't have been here faster if they were parked here," Rivera said. "They would have had to have been miracle workers to do more."

Neither Ketter nor Self is employed. George Ketter said his brother had suffered disabling heart trouble in recent years, and he worried Saturday that the stress of the fire might kill him.

Self, who relatives said was pregnant, was examined at the hospital, where she and her unborn child were given a clean bill of health.

"Thank God, the baby's all right," her 11-year-old niece, Brittany Akin, said.

Staff writer Matt Pacenza contributed to this story.