Service scheduled for 3 Central Texas girls who died in house fire

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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Feb. 10 at Westside Baptist Church at 711 Stagecoach Rd. in Killeen for three girls who died last Friday after fire broke out in their home.

(Left to right) Chastity Armstrong, 6, Khalia Armstrong, 5, and Tristan Armstrong, 3. (Courtesy photo)

Chastity Armstrong, 6, Ka’Liyah Armstrong, 5, and Tristan-Sarah D. Blakes, 3, whom relatives earlier identified as Tristan Armstrong, will be laid to rest in Killeen City Cemetery.

A pot left on a stove caused the fire, Deputy Chief and Fire Marshal James Chism confirmed Monday.

The three girl died of smoke inhalation and thermal injuries, according to a preliminary autopsy report, Chism said in a press release Monday.

“The three children were in their bedrooms and were not able to escape,” Chism said.

The fire at 3101 Jason Cove was reported at around 3:30 a.m. Friday.

When the first crews arrived on scene flames were coming out of the roof of the one-story home.

A man and a woman were able to escape from the burning house through windows, Chism said.

A second man was in the house as well, but left at the time or immediately before the fire started, Chism said.

The woman, whom a relative identified as the mother of the children, Audrey Armstrong, was taken to a local hospital.

The man, whom The Associated Press identified as Cory Harrington, was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene.

Harrington said he lived in the house with his nephew and his nephew's fiancee.

His nephew wasn't home at the time of the fire, he said.

Mechelle Snider, who lives next door, woke up early Friday to a banging on her door.

She found the mother of the three children, covered in blood and asking for help to rescue her children.

Snider said the mother jumped out of a window to escape and was taken to Metroplex Hospital in Killeen with non-life threatening injuries.

Snider, a veteran, says she ran to the back of the house where the children were sleeping to try to rescue them, but was unsuccessful.

"We tried to get the babies, but we couldn’t," she said.

Two of the three girls attended Sugarloaf Elementary School and Killeen Superintendent John Craft said counseling support teams would be at the school to speak with students and staff.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help rebuild the home and for funeral arrangements.

The blaze was the second deadly fire in three days in Bell County.

Last Wednesday, fire raced through a home in Nolanville, claiming the lives of Sherry Hines, 85, her daughter Denise Hines, 46, and her granddaughter Skylar Hines-Little, 19.