Residents of an Arizona town are reeling at the loss of five children who died in a house fire that started while the father was out Christmas shopping.
A candlelight vigil was held Wednesday evening at the Anna Circle home in Bullhead City, four days after the tragedy struck, AZ Central reported.
Mourners left toys, flowers and other objects at the site, including five white crosses, five small Christmas stockings and five balloons — four blue and one pink.
Four of the children were siblings who lived at the house, including a 4-year-old girl and three boys who were 2, 5 and 13. An 11-year-old boy described as a relative was also killed in the blaze.
“It’s earth-shaking,” Rebecca Crizer told AZ Central. “All of us have taken this personal … it has affected everybody.”
The news outlet described Bullhead City as “a tight-knit town of about 40,000 people” near the border of Arizona, Nevada and California.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to a Facebook post by the Bullhead City Police Department.
It was reported at 4:54 p.m. Dec. 16 in a two-story duplex. The fire department arrived within 5 minutes and the “main body” of the fire was extinguished by 5:03 p.m.
“Several neighbors reportedly attempted rescue efforts, including placing an extension ladder to the upstairs bedroom,” according to that report.
One neighbor was treated at a local hospital for smoke inhalation after he entered the home searching for victims, the Mojave Daily News reported.
Adding to the poignancy of the tragedy, the department said that a Bullhead City Fire Department employee is the grandfather of the victims.
Because of that personal connection to the situation, fire investigators from nearby Lake Havasu City Fire Department, as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, were asked to help the police investigate the incident.
The report said investigators believe the fire “originated in the downstairs foyer area, most likely making it impossible for the children in the upstairs bedroom to get out of the residence safely.”
The fire traveled up the staircase, which blocked the victims’ escape.
The bodies of all five children were found in the upstairs bedroom.
The father told investigators he had been gone about 2 1/2 hours as he shopped for groceries and Christmas gifts.
Officials collected evidence at the scene for lab analysis to help determine the cause of the fire and to figure out why it spread so quickly, the Mojave Daily News reported.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.