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Father, 2 young boys killed in fire at South St. Paul home

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A father and his two young boys were killed in a fire at a South St. Paul home Tuesday night, investigators said at a news conference Wednesday morning.

Firefighters arrived at the home on the 300 block of 11th Avenue South around 9 p.m. to heavy flames visible near the garage, the South Metro Fire Department said on Facebook.

There was "intense heat and smoke" inside the home where they located the three victims, officials said.

A 60-year-old father and his 2-year-old son were pronounced dead at the scene, a news release says. The third victim, a 5-year-old boy, was taken to a St. Paul area hospital, where he later died.

A women who says she is the aunt of the two boys identified the family members killed as Soeun Sem, 60, and his sons, 5-year-old Alexander and 2-year-old Eric, the Star Tribune reports. Their mother wasn't home at the time of the fire, the paper notes.

All the victims were found on the second floor of the home, officials said at a news conference Monday, noting the fire appeared to start in or near the basement level garage, FOX 9's Rob Olson tweeted.

It's not clear if the home had working smoke detectors, WCCO's Ashley Roberts tweeted.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Some tweets from the scene:

Fires during cold weather

Fires are most common in Minnesota during the winter, peaking in January – last year in Minnesota, 39 percent of fire deaths occurred in October, November and December, according to state Department of Public Safety, which has tips to prevent fires during the cold winter months.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s website shows 33 people died in fires from January through August of this year.

There were 41 fire fatalities last year, compared to 44 in 2013 and 50 in 2012, the Department of Public Safety notes.

The leading causes of fires in Minnesota are cooking, heating and open flame, when compared with all known fire causes, the State Fire Marshal's 2013 report notes, with 51 percent of fires starting in the kitchen.

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