Hartsville mayor describes finding children in burned home; vigi - WNCT

Hartsville mayor describes finding children in burned home; vigil planned

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Hartsville Mayor Mel Pennington at the burned home on Thursday. Hartsville Mayor Mel Pennington at the burned home on Thursday.
HARTSVILLE, SC -

Less than a day after 4 children under 4 years of age were found dead in a Hartsville mobile home fire, the Mayor of the town described what he saw when – while also working as a fireman – he found the fatally injured children inside the home.

 Photo Gallery: 4 young children killed in Hartsville fire
19 photos

 Mel Pennington, the Hartsville Mayor, also serves as a volunteer firefighter for the town. 

He was among the fire crews that arrived at the mobile home on Depot Street just before 2 pm on Wednesday.

 A mobile home was in flames and inside were four children. Their mother was in the yard.

 Pennington said the children were together when they were found inside the home, with some of the children in a closet.

 "To see those kids hugging each other, holding on to each other and you just know they were scared," Pennington said while standing at the mobile home.  "There is just no word to describe that feeling." 

"We just pray that they were taken peacefully ... but all I can think about is those kids. That is all any of the first responders are thinking about, trying to get past the visual image in your mind of those kids, holding on to each other in the closet, yelling for help not knowing what, where to turn," said Pennington.

Inside the home were Myasia Hawkins and her twin sister, Kynasia Hawkins, ten months old, their brother, Delonta Dixon 4-years-old and another brother, Camaron Mason 2-years-old all of Hartsville. 

A neighbor told police she heard a loud boom and ran outside to find the home on fire. Knowing the kids were inside she attempted to save them but the flames were to intense.

 On Thursday, the grandmother of the dead children arrived at the house and had to be carried by family as she broke down. Other people arrived to add items to a makeshift memorial.

 News 13 learned earlier today a candlelight vigil is set to take place Friday at 8:30 pm in the center of downtown Hartsville, Centennial Park.

"Yesterday our community experienced a horrible tragedy, and I continue to struggle to find the words to make sense of it," Pennington wrote on Facebook Thursday.

"First, being a father before I am a mayor, I extend the condolences of our city to the family that is struggling to deal with this tragic loss," he said. "I am proud of our firemen and all of our first responders yesterday -- They exhausted every effort to save these four children."

      The funeral services will take place next Thursday at an undetermined location.

 Young and Young Funeral Home handles the arrangements.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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