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A Pennsylvania dad and two of his sons were killed in a fire Christmas morning that investigators believe was started by lights on the family’s Christmas tree.
Eric King, 41, and children Liam, 11, and Patrick, 8, all died after the fast-moving fire ripped through their home in Quakertown around 1:20 a.m., local reports noted.
“The evidence is very clear that it started in the Christmas tree. It was a real tree,” Quakertown Police Chief Scott McElree told the Bucks County Courier Times. “A Christmas tree burns very quickly and very hot.”
The paper reported that wife Kristin King managed to escape with the couple’s oldest son, Brady, though both of them were taken to an area hospital for evaluation. Two of the family’s dogs also died in the fire.
The two younger boys were in the third and fifth grades at Quakertown Community School District, while the oldest boy is an eight-grader at Strayer Middle School, the paper reported.
The house was fully engulfed by the time firefighters arrived, reports noted. The flames destroyed the King home as well as the twin house it was attached to, though the next-door family managed to get out unharmed.
“We will be continuing to investigate to find out why it ignited, but the evidence is very clear that it started in the Christmas tree. It was a real tree,” said Quakertown Police Chief Scott McElree, adding that “it was such a hot fire that most of the content where it started is burnt.”
“When trees go dry, it’s a violent and robust source. There is an immense amount of heat and that probably contributed,” the police chief added.
Police said that emergency personnel attempted to enter the home but the flames pushed them back.
McElree said that the home’s wood-and-stick frame likely contributed to the speed at which it burned, but that the firewall between the two homes worked as designed and no doubt contributed to the other family being able to get out in time.
A Go Fund Me account has been set up for the King family. As of this writing, more than $435,360 out of a $20,000 goal had been donated.
“In the early hours of Christmas morning Eric and Kristin King’s home caught fire. Brady, their oldest son and Kristin made it out, but Eric, Liam, Patrick, and their two dogs did not. Their entire home was destroyed by the fire,” the campaign says.
It adds that the family has been a “huge part of the Quakertown Youth Baseball Association and spent their days and nights at the baseball fields.”
“The Quakertown community will be deeply impacted by this great loss. Please help Brady and Kristin feel the love and support of the community as they deal with healing from this horrific tragedy,” the campaign, which was organized by Kristin Randazzo, notes further.
“This news is devastating for the District community and the Quakertown area at large,” the local school district said in a statement. “Eric and Kristin are very active in the community, and the kind of people who make this a special place to live and attend school. The School District sends its heartfelt sympathy to the King family and their many friends and relatives.”
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