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7 children die in Pennsylvania house fire

From Jason Kessler, CNN
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Neighbors lend hand after tragic fire
  • NEW: Neighbors are shocked
  • The children's ages are 7 months to 11 years
  • They are six girls and one boy
  • Police: The mother was milking cows in the barn and the father was at work

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(CNN) -- A fire has killed seven children at a farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania, authorities said.

The children -- ages 7 months to 11 years -- died Tuesday night when the fire fully engulfed the Mennonite family's two-story house in Loysville, about 25 miles northwest of Harrisburg, Tom Pinkerton of the state police said.

The parents were outside the house at the time of the fire. They survived, as did another child, he said.

The fire sent shock waves through the central Pennsylvania community.

"It's just hard to explain how somebody could lose their whole family in a wink of an eye like that," said Steve Orris, who works at an insurance company in Loysville. "It's just unbelievable."

"Everybody I've talked to here this morning has felt a lot of sympathy toward these people. It's a real shame the way things like that happen," he said.

Farmhouse fire kills seven children
Seven children killed in farmhouse fire

The father was taking a nap in his milk truck after making a few stops along his delivery route, Pinkerton said. The mother was milking cows in the barn.

"While mom's milking cows, her 3-year-old daughter comes running into the barn and the 3-year-old tells the mother that there's smoke inside the house," Pinkerton said. "Mom leaves the barn, comes running out, sees that the house appears to be on fire."

The mother went to two neighbors' houses before she could get someone to call 911, he said. She then found her husband sleeping in his milk truck and they rushed back to the home to find their home engulfed in flames and firefighters trying to put out the blaze.

The children -- six girls and a boy -- were found dead inside the house.

CNN's Paul Chambers contributed to this report