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Oregon house fire kills four children, injures three others

(Reuters) - An early morning house fire in western Oregon on Wednesday killed four children and left three other members of their family who were present at the time hospitalized with severe injuries, authorities said.

The blaze was reported shortly after 2 a.m. in the town of Riddle, Oregon, about 200 miles (322 km) south of Portland.

The cause of the fire was under investigation but did not immediately appear to be suspicious in nature, according to a spokesman for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Dwes Hutson.

The four youngsters who died at the scene were identified as Gwendolyn Howell, 4, Haley Maher, 7, Isaiah Young, 10, and Nicholas Lowe, 13.

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The three survivors -- Tabitha Annette Howell, 38, James Keith Howell, 39, and Andrew Hall-Young, 13 -- were all taken to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland for treatment of serious injuries, the sheriff's office said.

Tabitha Howell is the wife of James Howell and mother of all the children involved, except for Nicholas Lowe, who was a foster child living with the family, Hutson said.

Grief counselors were called in to the schools where some of the children were enrolled, the Portland Oregonian newspaper reported. The town of Riddle, in an area known for commercial timber production and nickel mining, is described as a close-knit community with a population of fewer than 1,200 residents.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Sandra Maler)

 
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