Families of victims in deadly Douglas Co. fire: 'We are requesti - KPTV - FOX 12

Families of victims in deadly Douglas Co. fire: 'We are requesting continued prayers'

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Scene of deadly house fire in Riddle (KEZI/CNN) Scene of deadly house fire in Riddle (KEZI/CNN)
Candlelight vigil in Riddle after a fire led to the death of four children. (KEZI/CNN) Candlelight vigil in Riddle after a fire led to the death of four children. (KEZI/CNN)

The families involved in a house fire that killed four children in Douglas County released a statement Thursday, thanking first responders and asking for continued prayers.

Emergency crews responded to the 700 block of East Third Avenue in Riddle at 2 a.m. Wednesday.

Firefighters said four children were pronounced dead at the scene. They were identified Wednesday afternoon as Gwendolyn Howell, 4, Haley Maher, 7, Isaiah Young, 10, and Nicholas Lowe, 13.

Two adults and a teen boy were taken to Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg and then brought to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland for further treatment.

James Keith Howell, 39, Tabitha Annette Howell, 38, and Andrew Hall-Young, 13, remained in critical condition Thursday morning, according to a Legacy spokesperson.

Riddle Fire Protection Chief Rich Holloway posted on Facebook that the fire was caused by a portable space heater left too close to combustible materials.

Firefighters said the family's fireplace insert blower went out and they were using a portable heater until they could get it fixed.

Investigators noted that all the burn pattern indicators, witness statements and a statement from the father corroborated that the space heater caused the fire.  

"The Riddle Fire Protection District wants to send our heartfelt sympathy to the family of the victims and we will be doing whatever we can to be there for them," according to a district statement. 

Family members traveled to Portland to be with their loved ones in the hospital. The families of the victims released a statement Thursday.

The families would like to thank all of the first responders, including the Oregon State Police, sheriff's office, EMTs and firemen who came out and helped our family on this tragic day.

The community has been so generous in their response to our needs with prayer and offers of support, and we are very grateful.

At this time, we are requesting continued prayers and your respect for our privacy, as we are grieving our loss.

The family also "requests that anyone who wants to show their love and support, please take this moment to test their smoke detectors and be sure they are working properly."

Riddle School District Superintendent David Gianotti said the family was in the process of moving to nearby Myrtle Creek and the children were enrolled in school there this year.

Counselors were available at schools in both Riddle and Myrtle Creek on Wednesday. Gianotti said it's been tough on the tight-knit community.

"Because in a small community or a small school setting, there's a lot of rumors and speculation about what happens, what has happened, or what will happen, or what's currently happening, and, to be honest, we don't know a lot of that," he said.

A candlelight vigil took place in Riddle on Wednesday night and a GoFundMe account for the families has already surpassed its goal. 

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