GARY, Ind. (AP) – Fire gutted a small house early Wednesday, killing four children and two adults, as intense heat drove back relatives and neighbors who tried to break windows to get them out, authorities said.

Two adults and three children ages 1 to 12 were pronounced dead of burns and smoke inhalation shortly after the blaze. An 11-year-old boy died Wednesday afternoon at a hospital.

A 7-year-old boy and an adult female remained hospitalized.

Neighbor Michael Dukes said he ran across the street to the burning house after hearing a woman screaming about 3 a.m. He pulled a young boy from the home’s living room, where flames were rolling up the ceiling from a couch.

The blaze was sparked by the misuse of smoking materials, said Gary fire investigator Norman Roby.

Initial rescue attempts were hampered by burglar bars on the home’s windows, and the smoke detector that firefighters found did not have a battery.

Laura Smith, 37, was dead at the scene. Kenneth Andrews, 35, and the couple’s 1-year-old son, Malik Smith, as well as Andrews’ sons, Darriontae Andrews, 9, and Andre Andrews, 12, died at a local hospital shortly after the fire.

The 11-year-old boy, who officials said was also related to Kenneth Andrews, died at the University of Chicago Hospital. The 7-year-old boy was in critical condition, spokeswoman Kristin O’Neill said.

State Fire Marshal Roger Johnson said that even though the window bars could have blocked an escape route, the smoke inside would have “rendered the victims helpless.”


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