4 children killed, mother critically hurt in Pratt house fire

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Courtesy Pratt Tribune Courtesy Pratt Tribune
PRATT, Kan. (KAKE) -

Authorities say four children were killed in a house fire in Pratt on Thursday. 

The fire was reported at around 9 a.m. near 2nd and Austin streets. Facebook live videos posted by the Pratt Tribune show thick smoke billowing from the house and firefighters dousing the flames from above. 

Danny Quint saw the thick smoke from a block away and rushed to help.

"So we went to the back of the house and tried to enter and it was just too much smoke coming out," he said, adding that he was unable to get into the house. "It's just hard that you're right there and there's nothing you can do."

Detective Jeff Ward with the Pratt Police Department said four children had died and a fifth person was hospitalized.

The Tribune reports Reece, Timmy, River and Harley Wheatley were trapped in the basement with their mother, Charee. The children, ranging in age from 5 years to 4 months, were pronounced dead at the scene. 

"I just felt sick," said family friend Cassandra Verstraete. "Devastated to hear that a friend lost all of her kids." 

Their mother was flown to a Wichita hospital, where she remained in critical condition Friday morning.

"She was an awesome mom. She loved all of her babies," Verstraete said. 

The other people in the home were not hurt.

GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family.

A state fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire, which could take several days.

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