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Father, Two Sons Dead After House Catches Fire Overnight Christmas In Quakertown, Police Say

QUAKERTOWN, Pa. (CBS) -- A Christmas turned tragic in Bucks County. A father and two sons have died after their house caught fire overnight in Quakertown, police said Saturday morning.

Firefighters were called to the scene on the first block of Essex Court around 1:30 a.m. Saturday. The home is a twin home, and both homes caught on fire. Essex Court is a cul de sac off of East Broad Street.

Police say the three people who died in the fire are 41-year-old father Eric King and his two sons, 11-year-old Liam and Patrick, 8. The other two victims, police say, are the mother and another son, a 13-year-old. They were rushed to the hospital and treated for burns and smoke inhalation.

The Quakertown School District Community identified the family in a statement Saturday, describing the loss as 'devastating.'

quakaertown fire
(Credit: CBS3)

"This news is devastating for the District community and the Quakertown area at large. Eric and Kristin are very active in the community, and the kind of people who make this a special place to live and attend school. The School District sends its heartfelt sympathy to the King family and their many friends and relatives," the school district wrote in a statement on Facebook.

Update: The GoFundMe page has been taken down. Dear Quakertown School District Community families. It is with...

Posted by QCSD News on Saturday, December 25, 2021

Residents of the second home were able to get out OK, according to police.

The official cause of the fire remains under investigation, but Quakertown police believe it's possible a Christmas tree caused the blaze.

"Right now, it's our understanding that we're looking at the Christmas tree that may have ignited as a result of Christmas lights on that Christmas tree," said Scott McElree, Quakertown's chief of police.

The fire was placed under control overnight.

The state fire marshal was also on scene and will make the final determination on the cause of the fire.

The superintendent of the Quakertown Community School District released the following letter Saturday:

Good evening.
It is with unbearable sorrow that I share with you this Christmas Day the tragic news that the King family, in a house fire early today, lost their father and two children, Richland Elementary School students, Liam, a fifth-grader, and Patrick, a third-grader. Mom and Brady, an eighth-grader at Strayer Middle School, thankfully survived.
This news is devastating to the school district community and the Quakertown area at large. Eric and Kristin and their boys are very active in our community.  The School District sends its heartfelt sympathy to the King family and their many friends and relatives.  Please keep them in your prayers.  A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family.
Our Crisis Response Team, in close partnership with the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, met earlier this afternoon and is in the process of setting up a series of supports for students, parents, and staff and faculty.  These supports will begin tomorrow and move into the New Year when school reopens on January 4th.  As our specific plans are finalized this evening and tomorrow, we will forward the information to you.  You will also be able to find updates on the QCSD main webpage.  In the meantime, if you are in need of assistance before these local services and supports are available by our QCSD team, please reach out to one of these county and regional organizations for support. You are not alone.  
Lenape Valley Foundation Warmline (non-crisis mental health talk line)
Available Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., 1-215-896-9717
NAMI Bucks County Warmline provides free, confidential support and resources
Available from 3-10 pm, 215-343-3055
Crisis Text Line: Available for students, parents, community and staff.
National Youth Crisis Hotline (24 hours): 1-800-999-9999
Access Services Crisis support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week: 1-855-634-HOPE (4365)
For school district employees, Health Advocate provides licensed professional counselors 24/7 as part of our Employee Assistance Program. Please check your e-mail for a link to the flier with more information and the phone number.
We are truly blessed to be a part of a wonderful community that is rich with faith, hope and love.  It is certainly a day to remember these blessings and time to hold close those we love.
Bill Harner

A GoFundMe page has been started to help the King family. It has raised $558,846 as of 5 p.m. Sunday.

CBS3's Howard Monroe and Jasmine Payoute contributed to this report.

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