HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. (AP) -- A woman and three children were killed when fire struck their home and spread to four other houses early Wednesday, family members said, as firefighters worked to determine what caused the massive blaze.
Fire Capt. Patrick McClelland said officials could not confirm whether the 51-year-old woman and three children - two boys, 10 and 5, and a girl, 8 - died in the fire. But the woman's sister, Janise Dale, said she was told by authorities that her loved ones were killed.
Willie Dale, the adult victim's son, escaped from the home with his girlfriend, their 10-month-old daughter and the mother of the three missing children.
"I woke up to my Mom saying `It's a fire. Get out,'" said Dale, 29. "All the smoke came in, and I tumbled down the stairs."
Those who escaped with Dale were taken to a hospital but did not suffer life-threatening injuries.
McClelland said he did not yet know the fire's origin or cause.
Three of the homes burned to the ground, and two were gutted. They were located in Highland Park, just outside Detroit, on a residential street one block from a busy freeway.
The neighborhood consists of older, two-story homes, including many that are vacant.