Five killed in southern Indiana mobile home fire

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Five people died in an overnight fire inside a mobile home in southern Indiana

The Crawford County sheriff is calling it the worst tragedy he's seen in his 16 years in law enforcement. It happened in Sulphur, a small town in Crawford County about 30 miles west of Louisville, Kentucky.

Crawford County Sheriff Tim Wilkerson says 32-year-old John Denton died in Thursday's fire along with his eight-year-old daughter, Kara Denton, and his 35-year-old half-brother, Bill Turbin. John Denton's girlfriend and her three-year-old son also died, but police have not released their names.

Wilkerson says a wood stove that was serving as the home's sole source of heat is suspected of causing the 12:30 a.m. fire. The State Fire Marshal's office is investigating the fire.

A relative says the rural mobile home had a furnace but John Denton wasn't using it to hold down his bills.

"He was woken up and he saw a glow. So he runs down there and he tried to get in to the door but by that time flames were raging and he couldn't get in," said Wilkerson.

The father, with a burned hand, ran to call police.

Leavenworth, Merango and English Fire Departments rushed to the home that was taken over by flames, but their efforts were slowed by the lack of fire hydrants.

"There's no fire hydrants in the country. It has to he taken by tankers," said Larry Allen, Crawford County Emergency Management.

"A tanker would come in and drop water and pull on out and another tanker would come in so the supply would stay up," Wilkerson said.

Once firefighters got the flames under control, the scope of the loss became apparent: three adults and two children dead.

Sheriff Wilkerson says this is the worst day he's worked yet.

"This is by far the worst tragedy that I've experienced in 16 years in law enforcement. It's by far the worst, to lose five in a fire," he said.

Donnie Melton runs the Ole Country Store, where Kara Denton was a regular customer.

"Before school, he would bring her up and let her count it out to me and pay me with her own money," Melton said.

Though most of the victims' neighbors are spread out across fields, they are close enough to be sadly impacted about the fire that claimed the lives of five neighbors.

"Everybody is pretty much family, although we are not real close or anything," Melton said.