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Dad who lost kids in Minneapolis house fire blames lack of heat

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Troy Lewis, who lost five of his children in a house fire earlier this month in Minneapolis, said his children would still be alive if his house had been heated properly.

Lewis spoke at a news conference Wednesday afternoon at New Salem Baptist Church in north Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reports.

Lewis said only two of the electric baseboard heaters worked in the Colfax Avenue duplex he rented, and that's why he kept the stove lit and a space heater running at night to keep his seven children warm, FOX 9 reports.

The initial investigation says the space heater likely caused the fire, according to the Star Tribune. Lewis told investigators the space heater on the second floor, where the fire began, had been "running for several days."

His remarks come three days before the funeral of his children - Gwendolyn, 18 months, Troy, 3, Fannie, 4, Mary, 6, and Christopher, 8 — at Shiloh Temple Church.

Lewis, 60, said he made several calls to the owner of his duplex complaining about the lack of heat.

“They told me we [were] on the list to get it repaired,” said Lewis.

Lewis's landlord Paul Bertleson has said the heat was working and he didn't get any complaints from Lewis.

Two of Lewis's children survived the fire, and they remain hospitalized. Shaca, 9, is in serious condition. Electra, 5, remains in satisfactory condition. Lewis was released over the weekend. He provided a photo of the two girls in their hospital room.

Lewis said Wednesday that Shaca and Electra have not wanted to talk about what happened, according to the Star Tribune.

Fire officials said last week that the cause of the fire is officially “undetermined,” but that nothing indicates it was intentional.

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