A former Marine died along with her three young children, whom she was attempting to save from a house fire early Tuesday in Kentucky, the AP reports. Lori Doppelheuer and Chris Hargis escaped from their house when the fire started, but both rushed back inside to rescue their five children. Hargis emerged with two daughters, ages 7 and 15, but Doppelheuer didn't make it out. A neighbor says she saw Doppelheuer run back inside as flames were engulfing the house. "I knew she wasn't coming back out," the neighbor tells the AP. Firefighters were unable to get to Doppelheuer and the remaining children because the stairs and roof were collapsing. They were later found dead in a rear upstairs room.
"It was very evident that they had tried to escape," fire chief Kevin Doyle says, per the Ledger Independent. He says the battery had been removed from the smoke detector in the children's room where the victims were found. The fire destroyed three row houses and damaged two others, and Doyle describes the 175-year-old buildings as "essentially a large pile of kindling," the AP reports. According to Fox 19, the fire is believed to have started accidentally on the porch of a 68-year-old neighbor, who also died. The children who died were aged 10, 3, and 20 months. "I can't even tell you what a loss it is," a neighbor tells Fox. "We've lost five very dear, dear people in this community, and it's indescribable."