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2 children die in Hyogo Pref. house fire

INAMI, Hyogo -- A 12-year-old girl and her younger brother, 8, died after a fire broke out in their house in this western Japan city on Nov. 19, police said.

According to the local fire department, a member of the family of Ryuichi Fujimoto, 44, called emergency services at about 12:30 a.m., saying, "My house is burning. A fire has spread from a store room on the first floor."

Fujimoto's daughter Ayaka and son Soichiro were rushed to hospital from the two-story house, but were later confirmed dead. Fujimoto was also treated at hospital for burns, while his wife was evacuated safely. The Hyogo Prefectural Police's Kakogawa Police Station is investigating the cause of the fire.

A 38-year-old neighborhood man told the Mainichi Shimbun that he went outside when he smelled something burning, and saw flames coming out of the Fujimotos' home. He also saw the father screaming that the children were still inside, and his wife crying for help.

The Fujimoto family had apparently had a barbecue in the yard on the evening before the fire. The neighbor said, "The sister and brother were close, and went to school together every morning. They were very energetic."

The wooden home with a total floor space of 120 square meters was badly damaged by the fire, which was extinguished about three hours after the initial emergency call.

(Japanese original by Toru Kurita, Kobe Bureau and Kazushi Machidori, Himeji Bureau)

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