SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- A community is mourning the loss of a father and his two young sons killed in a South St. Paul house fire.
A neighbor called police around 9 p.m. Tuesday to report the fire on 11th Avenue South. When firefighters pulled up to the house, they found the heaviest fire coming from the garage in the back of the home.
When they made their way inside, crews were met with intense fire and heavy smoke. The 60-year-old father and his two sons were found in the second floor bedrooms.
The father, 60-year-old Souen Sem, and his 2-year-old son, Eric, died at the scene. The older child, 5-year-old Alexander, died at the hospital.
The only other person who lived in the home was the wife and mother of the victims, 35-year-old Chanry Soeng. She was at working at her second job in Lakeville when the fire started.
Soeng says the family moved to St. Paul from Cambodia, and had lived in the home for two and a half years. Alexander was in kindergarten at Kaposia Education Center in South St. Paul.
Soeng says police called her and left a message for her to call. When she called back, she couldn't get through. Her husband also didn't answer the phone at home. When she drove home, she found a burned home and then went to the hospital where the second son died.
Soeng says Alexander wanted to be a doctor and Eric was very social. She says her husband was good cook and took care of the kids while she worked evenings.
WCCO asked Mark Erickson, the assistant fire chief of the South Metro Fire Department, if there were any signs that the family tried to escape, but he couldn't answer that question. He also isn't sure if the family had a working smoke detector in the home.
Erickson also said first responders were deeply affected by the fire.
"It's very difficult to deal with," he said. "We do a lot ot take care of our people after the fact -- the responders who were at the scene -- to make sure their well-being is looked after in something as tragic as this."
Officials are still working to determine the cause of the fire.
The family has set up a fund at Wells Fargo. To donate, visit any branch and reference the Soeng Family.
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