Investigators are still trying to determine what caused an upper story fire in a home in Winchester that resulted in the deaths of two young brothers.
Just after 9:30 p.m. Thursday, firefighters from all across the city were summoned to 210 Summit Avenue where they found smoke pouring out from the upper floor of the home.
"We observed one adult male at a bedroom window, up there, hanging out," Winchester Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Cullers told us. "There was heavy smoke coming out of the window where he was at. Our truck company did a ground ladder rescue of him from the window."
Family members and neighbors told the responding firefighters there were two children in another upstairs bedroom. Their stepfather had gotten badly burned trying to rescue them by running up the inside stairwell.
"We made an aggressive interior attack and advanced a hose line to the second floor," according to Chief Cullers. "We did a very quick extinguishment on the fire, and in the process of doing search and rescue, our firefighters found two children, ages four and six. And they [had] succumbed to their injuries from the fire."
There is a now small memorial (consisting of flowers and stuffed animals) on the front lawn of the home for brothers Landon and Braydon, who perished in the fire.
Chief Cullers said the stepfather's hands were so badly burned, he was transported to a hospital specializing in burn injuries. The mother and grandfather suffered smoke inhalation.
All of the family's dogs and cats apparently survived the conflagration, but one Pomeranian was seriously singed.
Fire investigators believe the blaze started on that upper floor, but they are not yet ready to conclusively name a cause.
Firefighters say the house appeared to have hard-wired smoke detectors. Investigators want to do more interviews before concluding whether (and when) those detectors sounded their alerts.
Because of the two child fatalities, the Winchester Fire and Rescue Department held a "stress debriefing" for personnel at the scene of the blaze in the early hours of Friday.
A preliminary ruling on the cause of the fire may not come for several days, said the department's chief.