HARTSVILLE, SC (WLTX) - Authorities say four children have died in a fire that swept through a mobile home in Hartsville.
A spokesman for the city, Russell Cox, said firefighters found the bodies Wednesday afternoon after taking about 10 minutes to put out the blaze.
A county official says the children are all brothers and sisters: a three-year-old boy, a 4-year-old boy, and twin girls, age one.
One of the first responders was Hartsville Mayor Mel Pennington.
"What this department and city will go through is nothing compared to what this family and the one thing that weighs on you is that there were four little kids, innocent little kids that were taken well before they needed to be," said Pennington.
A photograph taken by the Darlington County sheriff showed the charred interior of the mobile home ,while the outside appeared to be relatively undamaged. A tricycle and another children's toy could be seen in the yard.
A neighbor told police she heard a loud boom and ran outside to find the home on fire. Knowing the kids were inside she attempted to save them but the flames were to intense.
"We just pray that they were taken peacefully because fire is a very difficult way, but all I can think about is those kids. That is all any of the first responders are thinking about, trying to get past the visual image in your mind of those kids, holding on to each other in the closet, yelling for help not knowing what, where to turn," said Pennington.
"You just hurt like hell for those kids," Pennington said. "They don't call it Hartsville for no reason. We are a small city with a big heart and we have been tested time and time again for the past three years. This city will embrace this family, they will lift these children in prayer and we will rebound from this because we are tested but our resolve is strong."
At this point it's not known if the toddlers were home alone or how the fire started. An autopsy to confirm the cause of death of the children is scheduled for Thursday.