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GoFundMe account set up after 4 children die in house fire has surpassed $137,000

A GoFundMe page for a Monroe County family devastated by a house fire that killed four children surpassed its $100,000 goal in just one day, and is still accepting donations.

According to Sparta Area Fire District chief Mike Arnold, crews responded shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday to a report of a house fire with people trapped upstairs and unable to escape. By the time Arnold and Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the 3679 Backtrail Road address, the home was fully engulfed in flames.

Four children died in the fire, as did multiple family pets. The fire and sheriff departments did not officially release the names of the victims; however, the GoFundMe account identifies them as the four youngest members of the Coats family. One child escaped. Both parents and one additional child survived — it was not shared in the release if they were in the vicinity at the time of the fire.

Per Arnold, the child who escaped was in a different part of the home and tried to alert the other occupants about the fire before running to a neighbor’s home to call 911.

Firefighters attempted to enter the home but were unable to due to intense heat, smoke and flames. The second floor collapsed during the fire, Arnold said, and the victims and pets were found on the first floor once they were able to search.

Investigators from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the state fire marshal’s office are looking into the cause of the fire. No additional information has been released as of early Saturday afternoon.

Emily Pyrek can be reached at emily.pyrek@lee.net.

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