A fire tore through a two-story New Orleans home early Tuesday, killing a grandmother, her three grandchildren and the children's mother, fire officials said.
Officials have not released the names of the family members but said the children -- a 7-year-old girl, a 12-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy-- were students at a school across the street.
The deaths stunned the city's Broadmoor neighborhood and classes at Andrew H. Wilson Charter School were canceled for the day, said New Orleans Fire Department Deputy Chief Terry Hardy.
"The children were well known in the neighborhood," he said. "Their neighbors and the school staff took it extremely hard once they found out these children had perished. We are trying to get through this."
The department responded to reports of a house on fire about 12:20 a.m. and crews saw the bottom rear of the wood-framed house engulfed in flames, officials said.
The children's father was outside and told fire investigators he was awakened by the smell of smoke and tried unsuccessfully to lead his family out of the burning house, officials said.
Firefighters entered the house and found the bodies of the three children and their mother on the second floor. The body of the grandmother was found on the first floor.
The man told investigators there were no working smoke detectors in the house, Hardy said.
"Their lives could have been saved if they had them," he said.
The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Fire Department, the state fire marshal, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the New Orleans Police Department.
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