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Three children killed in Orange County fire

September 28, 2009 3:05:42 PM PDT
Fire claimed the lives of three young girls in Huguenot, Orange County.State police said a mother and her daughter escaped from the first floor when the fire broke out around 7:30 a.m., but two younger girls and their friend were trapped.

The house is located on Peenpack Trail in Huguenot, about 60 miles northwest of New York City near the border with New Jersey.

Officials say the homeowner, 44-year-old Caroline Dorritie, was awakened to noise from upstairs in a bedroom wing of the house. Upon checking on the situation, she encountered a large amount of smoke and heat that stopped her from advancing further into the area where several children slept. She then exited the residence and enlisted the aid of several town highway department workers in the area. Efforts were made by the workers to enter the upper story of the residence, but they were unable to gain access to the bedrooms. As the fire progressed, three children who occupied the bedrooms at the front of the residence succumbed to the smoke within the structure.

Firefighters entered the premises after their efforts reduced the heat and flames, and they located three children deceased inside the bedrooms. They were identified as 12-year-old Cassandra Dorritie, 12-year-old Devan Fahey and 10-year-old Julia Dorritie. Fahey, a classmate of Cassandra's, was staying overnight at the home.

Courtney Dorritie, age 15, escaped the fire by jumping from a bedroom window at the rear portion of the residence. Both Caroline and Courtney Dorritie escaped without injury.

Investigators believe the cause of the fire was accidental and that it started outside the girls' bedrooms.

All three victims were students in the Port Jervis School District. The mother is a teacher at Port Jervis High School.

In a statement, the school district wrote, "Out of respect for the families, we will not release any information at this time, but send our deepest sympathy to all of those who are hurting from this terrible loss."

School was not in session Monday, but district administrators have arranged to have counselors available at two buildings on Monday afternoon to provide support to our grieving school district community. Counselors will be available at the Port Jervis High School cafeteria and Hamilton Bicentennial Elementary School.

Counselors available at all schools on Tuesday. The district is also activating its crisis intervention team, comprised of counselors from throughout the school district and Orange County. Crisis counselors will be at all of our schools to provide grief counseling. Bereavement Support is also available through Hospice of Orange and Sullivan Counties.

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