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Six children feared dead in Baltimore house fire

Baltimore City firefighters after a fire on Springwood Avenue in northeast Baltimore on 12 January 2017. Image copyright Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP
Image caption One witness said flames were pouring from every window

Six children from the same family are missing, presumed dead, after fire tore through a house in northeast Baltimore, a fire official said.

Three other children and their mother have been hospitalised after escaping the blaze.

Baltimore City Fire Department spokesman Roman Clark said firefighters arrived to see large flames coming from all three floors.

"The building was fully engulfed when they arrived on the scene," he said.

Mr Clark said all nine children caught up in the inferno belonged to one family, and ranged in age from 8 months to 11 years old.

The woman has been named as Katie Malone, who works in the district office of Baltimore Congressman Elijah Cummings.

It remains unclear what sparked the fire in the early hours of Thursday. Heavy machinery has been brought in to clear the debris so investigators can access the building.

Reports suggest the blaze has been contained, but not yet controlled. One body has been found at the scene.

Image copyright AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
Image caption Six children are unaccounted for after the fire, with a woman and three others in hospital

The fire department said the woman and two of the surviving children are in a critical condition, while the third child's condition is serious.

However, William Malone, the father of all nine children, said one had been released from hospital and that Mrs Malone was stable.

He said he had not been at home during the blaze as he was working at a restaurant.

Neighbour Michael Johnson, who can see the house from his residence, described the fire as so intense that he had not thought anyone would survive it. He saw a woman emerge from the house, screaming, he told Associated Press.

Congressman Cummings said in a statement that Mrs Malone has worked as a special assistant in his Catonsville office for nearly 11 years.

"My staff is a family, and this unimaginable tragedy is shocking and heartbreaking to us all," he said.

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