3 children die in eastern Ark. fire - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

3 children die in eastern Ark. fire

MADISON, Ark. (AP) - Three children died early Friday in a house fire in eastern Arkansas, though the mother was able to rescue an infant sibling from the flames.

The four-bedroom brick home was fully engulfed when emergency responders arrived, Madison Police Chief Jonathan Parks said.

Parks said the baby is 9 months old. The ages of the children who died was 13, 10 and 4.

"All of them, I knew well," Parks said. "It's a small community."

The town has about 1,000 people. The chief said the children went to schools in nearby Forrest City. The superintendent called in grief counselors to the junior high and elementary schools two of the children attended.

Parks identified the victims as Kali Williams, 13, Kerria Williams, 10, and Michael Williams, 4. The mother, Tonette Mills, was having a difficult time absorbing the tragedy, the chief said.

"The mom is still taking it hard, she's taking it real hard," Parks said. "I believe she's trying to blame herself."

Sgt. Glenn Ramsey of the St. Francis County Sheriff's Department said the fire began at the stove in the kitchen. He said Mills was in her bedroom with the infant when she woke up and found the house burning. Heavy smoke and flames prevented her from getting the other children out.

When she got outside, Mills ran to a neighbor's home to call 911, he said.

Ramsey said the fire was accidental. Ramsey and Parks both said there was no indication of foul play.

Parks said he received a call about the fire at 1:50 a.m. and it took about an hour for firefighters to douse the flames. He said investigators from St. Francis County had not yet been able to tell where the fire started. Firefighters saw flames pouring from a kitchen window and smoke throughout the house.

Parks said a memorial fund has been established for the mother and infant. 

"They lost everything, they lost everything," Parks said. "They'll need clothes. Everything is gone."

Donations can be made to the Mills-Williams Memorial Fund, First National Bank of Eastern Arkansas, 101 N. Washington, Forrest City, AR 72335. People can call the bank for information at 870-633-3112.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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