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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Four children died in a house fire Wednesday in an Oregon timber town and their mother, her husband and a 13-year-old sibling were critically injured, a sheriff's official said.
The fire broke out around 2 a.m. in Riddle, a small town about 200 miles south of Portland that has been hit hard by the decline of the timber industry.
The dead children were ages 4, 7, 10 and 13 and included a foster child, authorities said.
The cause of the blaze did not appear suspicious, but an investigation was continuing, authorities said.
"It's awful, it's devastating," Douglas County sheriff's Deputy Dwes Hutson said. "It's a small town. There are less than 1,000 people in Riddle."
Grief counselors were on hand at schools in the South Umpqua School District, where some of the children attended class, said Superintendent Tim Porter.
The district has 1,450 students in all grades and the news shook up the community where people know each other.
James Keith Howell, 39, Tabitha Annette Howell, 38, and Andrew Hall-Young, 13, were transported to Legacy Emmanuel Medical Center in Portland, Hutson said.
Killed were 4-year-old Gwendolyn Howell, 7-year-old Haley Maher, 10-year-old Isaiah Young and 13-year-old Nicholas Lowe.
Nicholas Lowe was a foster child, Hutson said. Tabitha Howell is the mother of all the other children and is married to James Howell.
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