Four children and two adults were killed in a house fire south of Logansport early Wednesday.
Two other adults were hospitalized with injuries suffered in the blaze, according to police.
Emergency personnel were dispatched to the blaze in the 4300 block of Pottawatomie Road about 1:45 a.m. Wednesday.
Sgt. Tony Slocum, public information officer for the Peru Post of the Indiana State Police, said by phone Wednesday evening that the fatalities included a 42-year-old man and his 10-year-old daughter along with a 25-year-old woman and her three-month-old son, one-year-old daughter and three-year-old daughter. Slocum said he did not yet know the relationship between the 42-year-old man and 25-year-old woman.
Cass County Coroner Randy Rozzi had yet to authorize the release of the names of those who died, Slocum said.
Two other adults made it out of the burning house and were taken to Logansport Memorial Hospital with "non-life-threatening injuries," Slocum said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. In the subsequent interview, Slocum said he had yet to verify but that he believed the two adults who escaped were the wife and adult son of the 42-year-old man who died.
Steve Crispen, a shift lieutenant with the Cass County Fire District, said in an interview early Wednesday that he estimated the house was about 80 percent engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.
Cass County Sheriff's Deputy Nick Bowyer said he was first on scene along with fellow Deputy Ryan Preston. Bowyer said he and Preston climbed onto a roof of the house and used their batons to break windows in an attempt to reach those inside.
"We tried to go in, but there was just too much smoke," Bowyer said.
Crispen said firefighters encountered a similar problem.
"Our initial attack on the fire — we pulled two large high-flow hand lines off the engine, attempting to get the fire knocked down to where we could possibly enter the structure to try to save anybody, but it was too intense," he said.
The house had two stories, Crispen said, adding the heaviest fire appeared to be on the east end of the second story.
Firefighters also ran out of water at one point and had to wait about five minutes until more tanker trucks arrived, Crispen said.
The investigation into the fire is ongoing, officials indicated at press conferences Wednesday.
Slocum said Wednesday morning that any information the two who escaped the fire could provide would aid the investigation.
"It's going to be the crux of the case — the information they can provide us," he said. "It's always very valuable."
During the afternoon press conference, Cass County Sheriff Randy Pryor addressed rumors swirling about a death in Carroll County that might have been related to the house fire.
“There is a death investigation in Carroll County,” he said. "I believe that death is a male, and that male may be related to some of the individuals in the house.”
Pryor said he wouldn't confirm that man's cause of death, however, and he also wouldn’t confirm whether the death occurred before or after the fire broke out.
Fire personnel and investigators spent most of the day Wednesday at the scene of the fire, and State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson said during the afternoon press conference that the investigation could take days or weeks because of the amount of devastation.
“The roof is collapsed," he said. "The second floor is collapsed. So we have to dig through that debris. As we dig through that debris, if there is one area of the home that is more charring than the other, showing flame spread a certain way, we will record that. But it will be very hard with the amount of damage and the demolition of the home.”
Firefighters fought the blaze in below-freezing temperatures, but Crispen said the blaze was so hot it melted vinyl siding on a neighboring house to the west. He said the challenging conditions, though, could not compare to the loss of life.
"The worst part is knowing there's still six people in that structure," Crispen said. "These guys gave their heart and soul trying to get the fire knocked down. The police officers — they were risking everything they had trying to get in there, trying to get these people out of there. The worst part of being out here is just knowing that we lost six people in that structure."
Slocum also addressed challenges emergency personnel faced during the morning news conference. He mentioned the weather and the struggle to get water to the rural location.
"Plus these first responders in this area are probably suffering from a little fatigue," he said.
He recalled the recent wreck that killed two Logansport teenagers and injured three others. He also mentioned the toddler who accidentally shot and killed himself in Logansport last month and the hit-and-run vehicle that struck and killed two pedestrians near Walton Tuesday night.
New Waverly Fire Department, Logansport Fire Department, Prompt Ambulance Service, Walton Fire Department, Cass County Emergency Management Agency, Salvation Army, Red Cross, Logansport Police Department, Duke Energy and Cass County Highway Department also responded.
Those with information on the fire are encouraged to call the Indiana State Police Peru Post at 1-800-382-0689 or Cass County Sheriff's Department at 574-753-7800.
Kim Dunlap contributed to this report.