NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) -- Two children died Wednesday in a rooming house fire.
Mania Eaton, 5, and her sister, Tamaya Eaton, 9 months, were killed in a fire that began shortly before 1 p.m. at the home in the East End, said Lou Thurston, public information officer for the Newport News Police Department.
``There was fire coming from everywhere,'' said a neighbor, James Williams, 23, who tried twice to make his way into the burning second-floor bedroom on his hands and knees. ``I heard a baby screaming.''
Two police officers who arrived before firefighters also attempted to rescue the children, Thurston said. Heavy smoke and flames forced the officers out of the building as firefighters arrived.
Fire personnel found the 5-year-old in the bedroom closet, and the infant was lying on the bedroom floor.
Investigators were told that the mother of the children asked a 16-year-old girl to watch the girls while she ran an errand, Thurston said.
The 16-year-old said she went upstairs to check on the children, who were asleep, but noticed nothing out of the ordinary. The girl then went outside in front of the residence, and a short time later noticed smoke coming from the second floor.
Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire.
The girls' mother, Tracy Eaton, was taken to Sentara CarePlex Hospital in Hampton and was being treated for shock.
Chief Scott Liehold of the Newport News Fire Department said authorities had a difficult time trying to figure out how many people lived in the rooming house.
At least six adults were displaced by the fire, and were being assisted by the Red Cross.