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Father and 3 children killed in rural Maine house blaze

The mother of the 3 children escaped the house fire in Orrington, Maine, and was being treated for smoke inhalation in Bangor. It took about an hour for firefighters to extinguish the fire.

Dawn Gagnon/Bangor Daily News via Associated Press

The mother of the 3 children escaped the house fire in Orrington, Maine, and was being treated for smoke inhalation in Bangor. It took about an hour for firefighters to extinguish the fire.

ORRINGTON, Maine — A fire at a home early Saturday killed a father and his three children, while the children’s mother escaped and was hospitalized, authorities said.

The victims were identified as Benjamin Johnson III, 30, Ben, 9, Ryan, 4, and Leslie, 8, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state Public Safety Department.

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Christine Johnson, 31, ­escaped the predawn fire and was being treated at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor for smoke inhalation, ­McCausland said.

The home is in a rural area of Orrington, a town of about 3,900 residents.

Firefighting crews from Bangor and four other towns were called in after the fire was reported around 2:30 a.m., and it took an hour to extinguish the blaze, said Scott Stewart, assistant fire chief in Orrington.

The fire was reported by neighbors who heard a woman screaming, McCausland said.

The children attended Center Drive School in town, where Principal Roy Allen described them as ‘‘great kids, very nice kids.’’

‘‘This is just such a tragedy. It’s going to be devastating for the kids because it’s such a small school and everybody knows everybody,’’ Allen told the Bangor Daily News.

Officials from the state fire marshal’s office, aided by State Police detectives, were investigating the fire.

The Johnsons moved into the rented house about six months ago from Bangor, ­McCausland said.

Johnson worked at Hollywood Casino in Bangor, and Christine Johnson is an author.

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