UPDATE: Four children die in Monroe County house fire

LITTLE FALLS, Wis. (WKBT) — Four children died in a house fire Thursday night in rural Monroe County, the county sheriff’s department confirmed Friday.

Firefighters were called to the home at 3679 Backtrail Road in the town of Little Falls around 9 p.m. for a report of a house fire with several people possibly trapped on the second floor.

“It’s a terrible scene, it’s very tragic. And we’re doing the best we can,” said Sparta Fire Chief Mike Arnold.

When firefighters got there, the front of the house was fully engulfed.

“We attempted to go in the B-side of the structure, but it was impassable not only by smoke but by heavy fire,” Arnold said.

Firefighters were able to put out the fire quickly.

Five children were alone in the house at the time of the fire, but only one escaped. The victims’ parents and another sibling were not home when the fire broke out.

“The second floor basically came through, and it’s on the ground level at this time. It’s really making the process even more difficult,” Arnold said.

The cause and origin of the fire are unknown at this time, but Arnold said foul play is not suspected.

On Friday, crews combed through the rubble.

“With this much damage, it takes a long time to sift through all of the debris and that sort of thing,” said Capt. Jeffrey Spencer of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s just a slow process.”

“The surviving family is together right now, consoling each other through this difficult time,” Spencer said.

According to a Facebook post by Melrose-Mindoro School District, all four children attended its elementary school.

A relative created a GoFundMe page for the surviving family members. Just six hours after it was created, the fundraiser collected nearly $50,000 toward its $100,000 goal.

Tina’s K-9 Rescue out of Sparta is assisting with the family’s surviving animals.

The Sparta Fire Department was assisted through mutual aid by Melrose Fire Department, Black River Falls Fire Department, Gundersen Air and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. The Fort McCoy Fire Department helped cover the city of Sparta while crews were working the fire.

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