BARDSTOWN, Kentucky (AP) -- Fast-moving flames trapped a dozen people inside a burning house early Tuesday, killing 10 -- six of them children -- and leaving the only survivors hospitalized, authorities said.
Most of the victims were dead by the time firefighters reached them, Nelson County Coroner Field Houghlin said. Neighbors said the two survivors had be held from running back into the flames for the screaming children.
"It may have been an explosion in the center of the house. The fire flashed very quickly," said Bardstown Fire Department spokesman Tom Isaac.
Two of the children were found dead under the bodies of adults inside the charred one-story brick home, said Emergency Medical Services director Joe Prewitt.
The relationships and ages of the 12 people in the house and the conditions of the survivors were not officially released, but neighbors and relatives who gathered at the home described them as an extended family.
Janet Tonge said her 40-year-old sister, Sherry Maddox, died in the fire. Maddox's boyfriend, Johnny Litsey, a 2-year-old boy, girl twins, an 11-year-old child and a 1-year-old child were also in the house, she said.
"How do you prepare for a funeral this large? How do you do it?" Tonge asked. "We're not capable of thinking right now. We're like that house -- burned out."
The blaze broke out shortly before 4 a.m. in the home in Bardstown, about 40 miles southeast of Louisville. Fire officials were still trying to pin down the cause.
Fire Chief Anthony Mattingly said the fire spread too rapidly for firefighters to get inside.
"It just didn't make any difference how fast we were here for the victims that were found," he said.
Neighbor Bennie Stone, 61, said he saw someone on the front lawn screaming for help, then went to the rear of the house and saw a woman who had escaped trying to get back inside. Stone said he pulled her back, then broke some windows to try to get to the children inside but was driven back by smoke and flames.
"I heard some of the kids hollering. There was just flames everywhere. There was no way, no way, I just couldn't do it," Stone said.
Stone said he believed all the people in the house were related, but some were staying there temporarily because their furnace went out.
Another neighbor, Dwight Mason, 48, said one of the survivors was Darrell Maddox, who was listed in serious condition at University of Louisville Hospital on Tuesday morning.
Temperatures in Bardstown dropped to 11 degrees Monday night and hovered in the teens early Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. The ground around the home was icy Tuesday morning from water used to battle the blaze. A large portion of the roof had collapsed into the center of the building.
Another deadly house fire broke out in rural Maryville, Tennessee, early Tuesday, killing four children. The parents escaped from the burning home with a 2-year-old, but the other children, ages 7 to 14, died in the blaze, said Blount County, Tennessee, Sheriff James Berrong.
We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails