5 children and their mother killed in Texas house fire
HARDIN COUNTY, Texas (KFDM) — A house fire north of Silsbee has killed five children and their mother, according to information from Hardin County Sheriff Mark Davis.
Davis tells KFDM there's no evidence of foul play at this point but the investigation is just getting underway.
The victims include the five children, ranging in age from 3 to 11, including twins, and their mother, according to the sheriff.
The family's pastor, Randy Feldschau, tells KFDM Ashley Pickering, 31, died in the fire. It also claimed the lives of her children: Camden, 3; twins Cash and Cavence, 4 (they would have celebrated their 5th birthdays next week); Serenity, 7 (the only girl among the children); and Cristian, 11.
From Pickering's Facebook page: "Cristian, Serenity, Cavence, Cash, and Camden are my life... Anything else is irrelevant."
Davis said the first fire alarm was reported at about 12:15 a.m. Wednesday in a small apartment behind a home on Fountain Drive.
The structure was engulfed in flames when firefighters from Silsbee arrived and the structure was destroyed.
Once firefighters put out the flames they found the six bodies inside.
The grandparents of the children live in the main home and the mother and children lived in the apartment behind the house, according to the sheriff. He says the father doesn't live there but came to the scene when he was notified.
The cause is under investigation and a justice of the peace has ordered autopsies.
“This is a horrific scene, very somber, very sad," Sheriff Davis said.
"Your heart goes out to the family, the immediate family and the extended family. It's tough on everyone, including the first responders. It tears your heart out. It's the worst type of incident for any firefighter or first responder to face, to find victims inside."
Sheriff Davis says a neighbor called 911 and reported seeing flames from the structure. He woke up the grandparents in the main home but there was nothing they could do because the apartment was fully engulfed, said Davis.
The family belongs to Cathedral in the Pines church in Beaumont.
"We're talking with witnesses, anyone who may have seen anything," said Davis. "We're investigating the cause. We'll look at everything here and try to determine the origin of the fire and also other issues, things that would be relevant to the fire investigation."
Two of the children attended school in the Silsbee Independent School District. The district released the following statement:
"Silsbee ISD is deeply saddened to learn the news of a family in Silsbee that lost their lives in a house fire. News of this nature is not easy by any means, especially in our close-knit community. We offer prayers to those close to the family and our first responders as they cope with this devastating tragedy. We have learned two children lost in this fire were students at Silsbee ISD, and our staff will be offering support to the campuses as needed. Silsbee ISD will ensure that our students and staff will be comforted during this difficult time."