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Hundreds mourn children killed in Minneapolis house fire

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Several hundred people attended a Saturday afternoon funeral in north Minneapolis to remember the five siblings killed in a house fire on Feb. 14, WCCO reports.

The children -- 18-month-old Gwendolyn, 3-year-old Troy, 4-year-old Fannie, 6-year-old Mary and 8-year-old Christopher -- all died when a fire broke out in their Colfax Avenue duplex. Their father, Troy Lewis, 60, saved two other children who are still in the hospital.

Five small white caskets were lined up in the front of Shiloh Temple church, the Star Tribune reports, as family, friends and local officials paid their respects and comforted Lewis.

Among the mourners were Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, Minneapolis School Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson, Fire Chief John Fruetel, faith leaders and teachers from Bethune Elementary School, which the older children attended.

“There are no words to describe how we feel right now,” said Lewis’ sister, Debra Lewis of Chicago. “ … How hard it is for my brother to have his five beautiful angels in front of him,” according to the newspaper.

“Minneapolis has never had anything like this,” Bishop Richard Howell said in an interview with the Star Tribune. “It was a shock to the community and a lot of people wanted to give their respects.”

Investigators still have not determined the cause of the fire, but suspect a space heater that had been on for several days might have started it. Lewis told officials he was using the space heater and the oven to keep the house warm because the heat wasn't working properly.

Lewis's two surviving daughters, Shaca, 9, and Electra, 5, remain hospitalized but their father said Saturday they are improving.

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