BLAINE (AP) -- Three children were killed Tuesday afternoon when the van they were riding in became engulfed in flames on a highway here.
The van's driver, a 37-year-old woman, escaped and pulled a fourth child to safety, said Blaine Police Chief David Johnson.
Authorities said the dead children were ages 4, 3, and 18 months. The driver and surviving child were treated at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids and released. The identities of the victims and survivors were not disclosed.
"The vehicle was on fire, fully engulfed and there was nothing anybody could do to help," Johnson said. He added that the driver and two passers-by attempted to rescue the children but couldn't because of intense heat and flames.
Emergency crews arrived about 90 seconds after being called but couldn't get to the children, he said.
"It's a traumatic thing to respond to a fire and not to be able to do anything to stop it, knowing people are inside and knowing what the result's going to be," Johnson said.
The driver was a day-care provider and not the mother of the children, authorities said.
The cause of the fire had not been determined Tuesday and the State Fire Marshal's office was handling the investigation.
Johnson said the driver pulled over because of mechanical problems. When she got out, she saw the van was on fire, he said.
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