(BALTIMORE) -- The bodies of six children were recovered after a fire tore through a family's home in Baltimore, Maryland, early Thursday morning, officials said.
The blaze started at the three-story home in northeast Baltimore just after midnight, with a mother and her nine young children inside, said Roman Clark of the Baltimore City Fire Department.
An 8-year-old girl helped her mother and two of her younger siblings -- 4- and 5-year-old boys -- escape the house, fire officials said. The four of them were out of the home by the time the fire department arrived.
While the 8-year-old is in good condition and could be released from the hospital shortly, the mother, the 4-year-old and the 5-year-old are in critical condition, fire officials said Thursday.
Six children did not escape the house. Fire officials said Thursday afternoon that all of their bodies had been recovered.
The six children who did not escape the house are a 9-month-old boy, a 2-year-old boy, two 3-year-old twin girls, a 10-year-old girl, and an 11-year-old girl.
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said the children's father was at work at the time of the fire.
Fire officials did not identify the woman, but Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings said the fire involved one of his staff members, Katie Malone, and "her young family."
"I am asking that our entire community pray for my staff member, Katie Malone, and her young family. Katie has worked as a Special Assistant in my Catonsville office for nearly 11 years where she dutifully serves my constituents in the areas of immigration, postal services, and the military, including Service Academy nominations," Cummings said in a statement. "My staff is a family and this unimaginable tragedy is shocking and heartbreaking to us all."
Cummings told reporters Thursday morning that he talked to Malone's husband "at length today."
"Katie is going to be okay. ... Three of her nine children, her husband thinks they will be okay, also," Cummings said. "Our office will do every single thing in our power to embrace them in this very, very difficult time."
The home's third floor collapsed into the second floor, making the search for the children difficult, Clark said. He called the collapse "horrendous."
The cause of the fire is under investigation, the fire department said.
Pugh asked citizens of Baltimore to pray for the family, saying, “Any loss is painful, but the loss of children pains you even more deeply."
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