UPDATE: House fire near Rolla kills woman, 2 children

ROLLA, Mo. (AP) — A woman and two children were killed and four others were injured Wednesday when a fire broke out in a home in south-central Missouri, authorities said.

The house, about two miles south of Rolla, was engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived Wednesday morning.

Phelps County authorities haven’t released the names of the victims, but Deputy Fire Chief Eric Nylander said the victims were a woman who lived next-door, a 10-year-old boy, and a 16-month-old girl. Coroner Larry Swinfard said all three likely died from smoke inhalation.

Phelps County Sheriff Richard Lisenbe said in a release that the cause of the fire was under investigation. He said the home was a privately owned residence, not a group home. He did not immediately return calls Wednesday evening seeking comment on how many people lived in the home or what their relationship was.

Lisenbe said three deputies tried to enter the home but couldn’t because of heavy smoke and fire.

Authorities said the woman who died got out of the burning home but went back inside to try and save the children. Nylander said the woman and the baby were found in the same room.

“She was obviously trying to make her way to her,” he said. The 10-year-old boy was found nearby.

He said the other children who lived in the home were at school when the fire broke out. The 10-year-old may have stayed home because of an illness, Nylander said.

The woman who owned and operated the home was among four people injured and taken to Phelps County Regional Medical Center for treatment. The hospital said all four of the injured — the woman and three children — were treated and released.

Earlier version, posted at 1:22 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, 2011:

ROLLA, Mo. (AP) — A woman and two children died and four others were injured Wednesday when fire destroyed a south-central Missouri home where several developmentally disabled children lived, authorities said.

The fire was reported around 9 a.m. Wednesday about two miles south of Rolla. The house was fully engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived.

Mike Kirn of the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the house was a privately run group home for about 14 people with development disabilities. He said the woman killed was the adult daughter of the group home owner.

Authorities said the woman got out of the burning home, but went back inside to try and save the children. The other victims were a 10-year-old girl and an infant. Names of the victims have not been released.

Phelps County Sheriff Richard Lisenbe told KOLR-TV that several rescue crews arrived quickly but couldn’t get inside to save the victims.

“We had officers trying to get in there to get people out but the flames were really bad,” Lisenbe said.

The woman who owned and operated the home was among four people injured and taken to Phelps County Regional Medical Center for treatment. The hospital said all four of the injured — the woman and three children — were treated and released.

No cause has been determined. An investigation continues.

Rolla, a town of about 16,000 residents, is about 100 miles southwest of St. Louis.

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