The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

March 11, 2013

Family: Uncle tried to save 7 from Ky. house fire

— GRAY, Ky. (AP) — As flames engulfed a small house in rural southeastern Kentucky, Gino Cima raced to the scene to try to save his nephew, his nephew's fiancee and the five children inside. The drive in the tiny town of Gray took just minutes, but family members said Sunday that Cima was too late — he reached a side door as the fire raged and pulled out the bodies of the two adults.

"Hey, there's babies in there, there's babies in there!" Gino Cima screamed to firefighters, according to his wife, Laura, who also was at the scene.

The fire killed all seven people in the ranch-style home Saturday. Officials on Sunday did not identify the victims, but family members said the children ranged in age from 10 months to 3 years. They said the woman who died was three months pregnant and was the mother of three of the children inside. The other two children were siblings and friends of the family, visiting for the night for a sleepover, the relatives said.

Officials said the cause of the fire was under investigation. Arson investigators were at the scene Saturday, but officials said no foul play was suspected.

Laura Cima said she owned the single-story, wood-frame house that the couple was renting. She said they had recently moved in and were busy painting and getting carpets cleaned. They shared a bedroom in the back of the house, and Cima said the children were sleeping in a front room Saturday morning. She described an unused bedroom where she and her husband saw flames pouring out of a window when they arrived Saturday.

Gray is a few miles outside of Corbin, a city of about 7,000 in the foothills of Appalachia near the Daniel Boone National Forest and the borders of Tennessee and Virginia.

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