SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A couple and two step-grandchildren they were raising were killed in an intense fire in an old farmhouse that collapsed the walls.
Family members identified the couple as 72-year-old Leon "Bubba" McClaran and his 70-year-old wife, Molli McClaran. The family said the children were 9-year-old Chloe Pope and 7-year-old Gage Daniels. Someone passing the McClaran's farm in Bedford County saw the home enveloped in flames Sunday night and called for help in Shelbyville, about a half-hour southwest of Nashville.
Sheriff Randall Boyce said by late morning Monday, investigators had found three of the bodies. He believed the missing remains were those of the boy.
"We're going to keep looking until we find him," Boyce said.
A request was made for cadaver-locating dogs.
The fire pulled air up from the full basement, making it very intense, Boyce said.
Family members drew a layout of the home, showing firefighters where the victims' bedrooms were. Boyce said the three sets of remains were found near where their beds were located.
Authorities believe the fire began around 10 p.m. — about an hour after the family would usually be in bed. Firefighters fought the flames until around 4 a.m. Monday and they had yet to determine a cause.
Firefighters had to haul water and dump it into a canvas reservoir for the pumpers to draw from.
Mary Lamb said Leon McClaran was her younger brother and the property was part of the family farm where they all grew up. McClaran was the second-oldest of six siblings.
Lamb said her brother doted on the boy, who the family called "Buster."
"That little boy went everywhere with him," Lamb said.
Asked why the couple were raising their step-grandchildren, family members said simply that the children needed a home.
Cynthia Sudberry, also a sister of Leon McClaran, said her brother helped anyone who needed it. She said he made sure she had enough money while she recovered from surgery.
Sister Sherry Hobbs was also waiting near the end of a long lane leading back to the couple's home and she recalled her brother's kindness to her.
"When my husband died, he helped me with the farm," Hobbs said. "He would stop by every day and check on me."
Lamb said the family got together often and had celebrated Leon's birthday earlier this month.
"We have lots of good memories right here," she said. "This the homeplace where we were all raised. "
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
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