4 Amish Kids Die In Fire

amish fire rubble AP

Small groups of men and boys dressed in black trudged across the snow-covered plains Saturday, leading a procession of horse-drawn buggies toward a hilltop cemetery.

Four small graves had been dug for the bodies of four young Amish siblings who died Thursday when their farmhouse burned.

The oldest, Moses, was 5.

Investigators suspect a kerosene lamp in one of the children's bedroom's started the fire while Levi and Anna Mast finished the morning chores in a nearby barn.

Mast tried to reach the children, but the heat was too intense. The two-story home had no electricity and the nearest phone was half a mile away. By the time firefighters arrived, the farmhouse was engulfed in flames.

About 30 buggies from Amish farms across the region began arriving early Saturday in Fryburg, a tiny farming and lumber village of 30 families.

The children's grandfather, Elmer Mast, said many of the 200 mourners would return to help Levi Mast build a new house. A stone foundation and charred beams were all that remained after the fire.

The home had no smoke alarms, phone or electricity because the community, part of an ultra-conservative branch known as Troyer Amish, believes in a life without modern conveniences.

The Troyer Amish began in Holmes County, Ohio, in the 1930s, and later built communities in Ontario, western New York and Pennsylvania, said Steve Scott of the Young Center for the Study of Anabapist and Pietist Groups at Elizabethtown College.

While some Amish groups allow gas kitchen ranges and smoke detectors, the Troyer Amish use ice-cooled refrigerators and coal- or wood-burning stoves.

The families who settled in Fryburg believe it is wrong to have modern technology in their homes, said John Mast, 37, Anna's brother.

"I don't think it's God's intended way," he said.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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