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‘Suspicious’ House Fire Causes Death of Woman, 4 Children, 3 Dogs

Authorities are conducting a thorough investigation into a suspicious house fire in Ferguson, Missouri, that claimed the lives of a woman and four children early Monday morning. Described as a horrific tragedy by law enforcement, firefighters responded to the blaze at a residential home at 4:23 a.m., only to discover the building completely overtaken by flames. Three dogs were also reportedly killed in the incident.

Multiple people, dogs dead after ‘suspicious’ house fire in Missouri

St. Louis County Police Sgt. Tracy Panus confirmed the deaths, noting that the nature of evidence found on-site led to suspicions regarding the fire’s origins, although specific details were not disclosed — per CBS News. The investigation has since seen the involvement of St. Louis Regional Bomb and Arson detectives.

While authorities have not officially identified the victims, family members and neighbors indicated to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the household belonged to Bernadine Pruessner and her four children. Pruessner, remembered as an extraordinary individual by her father, Cordell Beache, was nearing completion of her doctorate in early childhood education and served as an assistant professor.

Amid the tragedy, reports indicated that three dogs also died in the fire. However, an animal rescue organization managed to save some animals, including chickens, rabbits, and two cats. The Ferguson Police Department shared images of the incident online, conveying their sorrow and calling for community solidarity in the wake of the tragedy. “Tonight our hearts are heavy,” the department wrote, adding, “Please keep this family, our first responders and our community in your prayers as we all grapple with this horrific tragedy. Thank you to all of the responding houses and support teams for having our back.”

One neighbor recounted the futile attempt to awaken the residents as the fire raged. “The smoke was so bad. I tried to kick the front door,” said neighbor Jerry McClure. “We just couldn’t wake them up,” he added.

Among the victims were twin girls Ellie and Ivy Pruessner, 9, Jackson Spader, 5, and Millie Spader, 2.

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