3 children die in Broaddus-area fire

SAN AUGUSTINE COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Three young children died in a trailer home fire in the Broaddus area Wednesday night.

According to Broaddus Volunteer Firefighter Amy Williams, the fire started around 8 p.m. on a private road off of County Road 3350.

Williams said Shaina Reiter, 4, Brandon Reiter, 6, and Austin McGee, 9, were pronounced dead at a San Augustine hospital.

Williams said the father, Brad Reiter, was home when the fire started and had pulled all three children out of the house. Williams and her husband, who is an EMT, arrived at the scene and immediately conducted CPR on the children, with the father's help, but they could not revive the children.

According to a spokesman at the Wyman & Roberts Funeral Home, it appears that the children died of smoke inhalation.

Williams said she did not know how the fire started or where it originated, but that it destroyed the home.

Chief Deputy Gary Cunningham said his department has contacted the state fire marshal's office to investigate the cause.

"I can tell you right now that we don't suspect foul play," Cunningham said. "And I say that because they are a very good, hard-working family who attend church regularly. A very decent family."

Volunteer firefighters attempted to resuscitate the children, but were unsuccessful.

It was the father who was there first.

"He says, 'I was taking them one at a time. I took one out,' and then he grabbed the other two children, laid them outside," said Mary Curry, a friend of the family. "Then he just kept trying to work on them. Trying to revive them. He said, 'Miss Mary, I did all I could do to save my children.'"

Brad Reiter was hospitalized after the ordeal. The mother was working a night shift in Lufkin when she got the terrible news.

Preliminary investigations show the fire started near the kitchen while the family slept.

"Emotions were high, but adrenaline was high," said Charles Sharp, the fire chief in San Augustine. "Just everybody was involved in doing something.">

All of Broaddus is sad. Flags are lowered to half staff.

Grief counselors help teachers and students at the children's elementary school.

Trinity Baptist Church plans for an upcoming funeral in its gymnasium. The same church Sheriff David Smith attends.

"I just like to ask the community to lift this family up in prayers. God be with them," Smith said.

The children are the angels of Broaddus, based on a recent Sunday School lesson.

"We made angel wings," said Kyla Lofton, the children's Sunday School teacher.

Austin's angel wasn't like the others, but he was unique too.

"Austin was autistic, but he could do anything he wanted to do, set his mind to do," Lofton said.

"I just pray God will give them that peace and comfort that only He can give," Curry said.

Benefit accounts for the family have been set up at Shelby Savings Bank branches in San Augustine and Center, as well as any First Bank & Trust location.

Copyright 2011 KTRE. All rights reserved.