Four boys died in a mobile home fire in Louisiana and their mother was charged Sunday with four counts of negligent homicide for allegedly leaving them alone, authorities said.
Capt. Doug Cain, a spokesman for Louisiana Department of Public Safety, told The Associated Press that the fire began just before midnight Saturday in the town of Rayne, about 70 miles west of Baton Rouge in southern Louisiana.
Cain said the boys who died were ages 2, 5, 7 and 8. He said their mother, 26-year-old Shaqueta McDade, was arrested and charged with four counts of negligent homicide. She was being held at the Acadia County Jail.
Rayne police officers interviewed the mother after the fire and arrested her because "she is suspected of leaving the children unattended," Cain said.
Cain identified the victims late Sunday as Jamari McDade, 8; Amous Mouton, Jr., 7; LaShay McDade, 5; and Brian Steiner, 2.
"Since it is a small community, it's devastated our community," said Amy Whatley, the principal of South Rayne Elementary School.
She said Sunday evening that a fifth boy, a fifth-grader, attends her school and was staying with relatives on the night of the fire. She said the community will come together and support the family during what she called "a horrible tragedy."
Dr. Mark Dawson, the Acadia Parish coroner, also said the four children were home alone when they died, but he was traveling Sunday and had not received a full report on the matter. Dawson said he had no other details immediately available.
Cain said the mobile home was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. The children were found inside the charred remains of the white mobile home after the fire was extinguished.
Pictures of the mobile home show it completely destroyed inside a chain link fence. Yellow police tape hung from a gate.
Cain said the Rayne fire Department asked the Louisiana Fire Marshal for assistance in the investigation to help determine the origin and cause of the blaze, which started in the living room. He said that investigation continues.
Cain said he's not sure where the mother was when the fire happened.
Officials with the Rayne Police Department and Acadia Parish Sheriff's Department did not immediately respond to messages Sunday.