Festive tragedy | 

Dad and two sons killed in fire that likely started from Christmas tree

Eric King, 41, his children Liam, 11, and Patrick, 8, died following the blaze in their Pennsylvania home
Sravasti Dasgupta© Independent.co.uk

A Pennsylvania man and his two young sons were killed early on Saturday morning in a blaze in their home.

Authorities believe the fire started from their Christmas tree.

Eric King, 41, his children Liam, 11, and Patrick, 8, along with the family’s two dogs died in the blaze, fire marshal Doug Wilhelm said on Sunday, reported Bucks County Courier Times.

King’s wife Kristin and their eldest son, Brady, 13, escaped and underwent treatment at a local hospital.

Autopsies for King and his two sons will be conducted on Monday, said Bucks County coroner Meredith Buck.

Mr Wilhelm said that the fire started around 1.30am on Christmas morning, when the family was on the second floor of their house.

Preliminary investigation has revealed that the fire started from the family’s Christmas tree, which was in the centre of a front window in the living room.

“We will be continuing to investigate to find out why it ignited, but the evidence is very clear that it started in the Christmas tree,” said Quakertown Police Chief Scott McElree.

“It was such a hot fire that most of the content where it started is burnt.”

“A Christmas tree burns very quickly and very hot,” Mr McElree added.

“When trees go dry, it’s a violent and robust source. There is an immense amount of heat, and that probably contributed.”

Authorities said that the fire made its way quickly due to the wooden stick-frame construction and also destroyed the neighbouring home.

The two homes were twin style attached side by side.

A fire wall between the Kings’ home and the neighbouring house however saved the neighbouring family — a mother, her adult son and dog — who were able to escape without injury, Mr McElree added.

A social media campaign has been started by the Quakertown community to help raise funds for the Kings.

“Eric and Kristin were high school sweethearts and the happiest people you will have ever met. They were always smiling and full of positive spirits, you just couldn’t help but to love them,” said the campaign page on GoFundMe run by a friend of the family, Kristin Randazzo.

“The three boys, Eric and Kristin were all a huge part of the Quakertown Youth Baseball Association and spent their days and nights at the baseball fields. The Quakertown community will be deeply impacted by this great loss,” the post added.

The campaign has so far raised over $600,000 (around £448,000) for the family.

The Quakertown School District said: “This news is devastating for the District community and the Quakertown area at large. Eric, Kristin, and their boys 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 administration is in the process of setting up a hotline of supports,” the statement added.

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