A fast-moving fire swept through a Rocheseter multifamily home early Saturday, killing four people
White candles, stuffed animals and written messages lay on Sunday in front of the scorched two-story house in Rochester where four young siblings died in a weekend fire.
The cause was still under investigation, the authorities said, and the circumstances of the blaze raised questions.
Firefighters were sent to the corner of Grape and Jay Streets about 1 a.m. Saturday to extinguish a rubbish fire on the sidewalk near the front of the house at 82 Grape Street, Fire Chief John D. Caufield said. After that fire was put out, another was discovered on the first floor of the house; it appeared to have been started after firefighters had arrived, he said.
Within minutes, the flames engulfed the first and second floors, Chief Caufield said. By the time firefighters had rescued a woman and her small child on the first floor, the fire was out of control and rescue efforts were called off.
Four people were taken to Strong Memorial Hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening, he added.
“We’re trying to determine whether the two fires are linked or not,” Chief Caufield said, adding that investigators — including agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as Rochester detectives — had “some theories” but were still awaiting the findings of the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office, which declined comment on Sunday.
The dead children ranged in age from 6 to 14, the authorities said. Their names were not released, but neighbors identified the victims as Greg Kugler, Kaiden Kugler, Gage Reavey and Kandee Kugler — three brothers and a sister.
The children’s mother, Bobbie Kugler, appeared to be among the survivors, neighbors said.
Lisandra Rivera, 32, who lives nearby, said she was grief-stricken because the victims were close friends with her children.
“They spent a lot of time over here,” Ms. Rivera said, adding that her son Elijah had planned to spend the night at the Kugler home, where he had been playing video games. “He decided he didn’t want to sleep on the couch,” she continued. “And he came home around 12:45 a.m. By 1 a.m., the house was in flames.”