A fire that ripped through a Mississippi home early Saturday killed a mother and her six children despite the father's efforts to get them out safely, officials said.
Firefighters found the home on Old Vicksburg Road in Clinton, Mississippi, engulfed in flames after responding to a call around 12:30 a.m., Fire Chief Jeff Blackledge said.
Clinton is about 10 miles northwest of Jackson, Mississippi.
"At the time, they didn't know how many people were inside the house, if anybody," Blackledge said.
The children ranged in ages from 1 to 15. Five of the children were found huddled in one bedroom and the mother and another child were found in a different bedroom, Blackledge said. All of the children, except for the 1-year-old, were boys, he said.
The city of Clinton on Facebook identified the victims as: Brittany Presley, 33; Lane, 13; Lawson, 12; Grayson, 6; Malcom, 4; Felicity, 1; and Landon Brookshire, 15.
The father tried to save his family, the chief said, and the attempt left him with second-degree burns and smoke inhalation. He was being treated at a hospital.
"He actually went in and told them to follow him," Blackledge said.
"He was going to lead them outside, and when he got to the door and outside, the children were not with him."
He added: "I can only guess what they thought. What they were doing."
While Clinton firefighters have seen fatalities before, Blackledge said they've "never had any fatalities to this magnitude in a house fire."
The cause of the fire is under investigation "but we feel like it's going to be electrical in nature," he said. It was unknown whether there were working smoke detectors in the 1,300-square-foot house.
On Facebook, the city of Clinton said "this has been a tragic day."
"We ask this community to wrap each other in prayers and kindness as we all grieve together," it said.