• Kyodo

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Police launched an investigation Saturday into the cause of a fire at a condominium in Izumi, Osaka Prefecture, in which two boys and a girl died after they had been left alone by their parents.

Jukiya Sakaguchi, 7, his 4-year-old brother Amuru and their 1-year-old sister Mai were taken by rescue personnel to a hospital at around 4:50 p.m. Friday but all three subsequently died of smoke inhalation.

The parents, Masato, 40, and Tamami, 26, Sakaguchi were out at the time, the Osaka Prefectural Police and the local fire department said.

On Saturday, police found two lighters in the children’s room near the entrance and some 20 items of clothing in the room’s closet completely burned, they said. Police suspect the cause of the fire could be the lighters.

The fire broke out inside the Sakaguchi’s home on the sixth floor of an eight-story building in a residential area. The mother received a call from the eldest boy, who said their house was on fire, around five minutes before a neighbor telephoned the fire department.

The mother told him to get out and rushed to the condo from the nearby supermarket where she worked, but the fire prevented her from entering, the police said.

The three children were already unconscious when firefighters brought them down by ladder.

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