Neighbors who attempted to rescue children trapped in an intentionally set house fire Thursday describe a horrific scene punctuated by the cries of the youngsters and their parents.
"I heard (the father) yelling, `My kids! my kids! Who could do something like this?" neighbor Tom Riley said.Riley praised Salt Lake firefighters who crawled into the home to rescue the children.
"I thought there was no way they could get them out. It was just roaring and it looked impossible," he said.
Before firefighters arrived, one neighbor used a garden hose to douse a back bedroom with two children in it and said he could hear as their cries grew faint.
"I could hear them while I sprayed the walls but eventually the sounds just faded," Kenny Bagley said. "I told them to stay low to the ground. I wanted to go through that window but I couldn't."
Bagley said he rushed to the window after Leslie Ortega told him there were children in the bedroom.
"I broke out the window and boom! It was just like this wind force pushing smoke out," he said.
The fire destroyed the home, the Ortegas' car, and scorched top branches of a 35-foot tree nearby.
Other witnesses said flames shot out of the home's walls, roof and swamp cooler.
Neighbors said they did not notice any unusual vehicles or suspicious persons in the area before the fire.