• Kyodo

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The bodies of six people were found in the remains of a three-story house that burned down early Friday morning in the city of Shizuoka, police said.

The fire, which broke out around 2:40 a.m., spread to four homes nearby. No neighbors were injured.

It took 90 minutes to put out the blaze.

Police suspect the deceased were members of the family of the owner of the house, who was identified as Masami Endo, 69, a tailor who suffered serious injuries and was hospitalized.

At home at the time of the fire were Endo’s wife, Hisako, 68; son, Masatoshi, 39; Masatoshi’s wife, Kazue, 36; their two sons, Takahiro, 9, and Yuki, 7; and daughter, Yuka, 3.

Police said they were trying to identify the bodies.

Four of the six bodies — three children and a woman — were found in a heap in a room on the third floor, police said.

Two other bodies, both adults, were found separately, on the second and third floors, according to police.

Police began an inspection Friday morning to try to determine the cause of the fire, which is believed to have started somewhere on the first floor.

Neighbors said they heard a woman crying for help from the third floor, but they were not able to get near because the fire spread rapidly.

“I saw the fire leaping out of the windows,” a 48-year-old man who lives nearby said.

A 45-year-old office worker in the neighborhood said, “My daughter heard cries for help and we dialed the emergency operator.”

The man said he then went to attempt a rescue, only to find flames leaping from the front door and windows.

The office worker said he sprayed water on the neighboring houses in an attempt to prevent the blaze from spreading, but he added that the flames were too strong.

“The fire engines had not arrived yet,” he said.

A 56-year-old housewife in the neighborhood expressed regret, saying Masatoshi Endo and his two sons were members of a local boy scout troop and they often went out together. She said the Endo family was very close and happy.

The neighborhood is 3 km east of JR Shizuoka Station.

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