MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Three young children are dead after their house caught fire Saturday night in north Minneapolis.

The family had just moved into the home, and we’re told they may have left the oven open and running in the kitchen to keep warm. The children’s mother made it out alive, but the three children were trapped inside.

The three children who died in the fire have not been identified, but they are 1, 6 and 8 years old.

This house isn’t supposed to be still, or empty. Just yesterday, a mom and her 3 kids moved in. As night and temperatures fell, firefighters believe the oven stayed on and open to heat the house.

“They are not vented properly. They are not a heating appliance. They are used for cooking and not heating,” Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel said.

And that is what he says started a fire that lit up the dark fall night.

“Unfortunately last night there was so much involvement of fire that it made it very, very difficult for our fire crews,” Fruetel said.

He said once inside, his firefighters made the most emotional of discoveries, two children who lost their lives downstairs and one fighting to live upstairs who eventually also died.

“We grieve when we lose a child and to lose three is unfathomable pain for the family, for the friends and for us as the city of Minneapolis,” Mayor Betsy Hodges said.

Of all the people who stopped by to see the ruins for one woman it was extra personal.

“I’m lost for words. I don’t know what to think,” Natasha Hibbs said.

Natasha Hibbs and her three kids just moved out of this very house in August. She sometimes used the oven for heat.

“I know it’s not the right thing to do but what do you do when it’s February and it’s below zero and you have no heat,” Hibbs said.

Some tried to do something by stopping by the home Sunday and offering prayer. Others brought gifts in honor of three children who left their new home silent.

The landlord also marveled at the scene. He said the furnace company was scheduled to come fix it this week.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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