CHESTER -- As the families of the three people who died in a fast-moving fire early Monday mourn their loss, fire investigators are continuing their probe into the cause of the deadly blaze.
While the victims have not been officially identified, they are believed to be 29-year-old Eddie Lane, his girlfriend, Shanae Bailey, 23, and her 3-year-old daughter, Anaija Bailey.
"They were beautiful people," said Gary Butcher, who added that he was the uncle of the 23-year-old Shanae Bailey.
"NaNa. They called her NaNa," Butcher said of the 23-year-old.
Firefighters and police were dispatched to 2332 W. Third St. around 10:51 p.m. Sunday for a reported house fire. When they arrived, heavy smoke and flames were shooting out of the front of the single-family home.
As firefighters began to attack the blaze, they were told several people were still inside.
Butcher, who lives a few blocks from the scene, said someone called him shortly after the blaze broke out. He dashed down the street to find the house on fire.
"You could hear her screaming," Butcher said as he stood outside of the house on Monday morning.
Firefighters entered the house and found the bodies of Lane and Bailey on the first floor, according to police. Little Anaija Bailey was found on the second floor. She was rushed to Crozer-Chester Medical Center, where she died a short time later.
"I seen her when they brung her out and she was still breathing," said Butcher, referring to the toddler.
As firefighters rushed the child into a waiting ambulance, Butcher said he saw Lane's body through the front door.
"When they brung the baby out, he was lying on the floor," he said.
Lane, who resided in the two-story frame house at the intersection of Third and Palmer, had reportedly dropped Bailey and her daughter off at the house then left to go to a bar, according to police. A short time later, Bailey called Lane's cell phone and told him the house was on fire.
Witnesses told police Lane rushed back to the house and kicked in the door in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue his girlfriend and her child.
"When he kicked the door in, as far as he got was the bottom of the steps," Butcher said.
Hours after the fire was extinguished, the acrid smell of smoke still hung in the humid summer air.
Neighbors and curious onlookers wandered past the front of the burned-out house, some adding to the makeshift memorial of teddy bears and candles on the front lawn.
A charred window air conditioner perched precariously on the front-porch roof beneath strips of melted siding. The windows of the house were broken out, giving passersby a clear view of the burned out interior.
Chester residents Charlene Martin and Wanda Goldsmith didn't know the fire victims personally, but offered a kind word to Butcher as he stood staring at the blackened house.
Martin said her son had known Lane since he was a young teenager.
"My son called me this morning on the phone," Martin said. "He said he's known him since he was 14 years old. He said he was a good young man."
According to police Capt. Joseph Massi, fire investigators brought in an arson dog to assist in the investigation.
"There was no accelerant found," Massi said.
The cause of the deadly blaze, he said, remains undetermined. The investigation is being conducted by Chester police, with assistance from the Delaware County Criminal Arson Unit, Pennsylvania State Police and the Chester Fire Department.
Dental records were being used to identify the victims, said a spokeswoman for the Delaware County Medical Examiner on Monday afternoon. Autopsies will determine the cause and manner of death.
The last fatal fire in Chester was back in February, when a 67-year-old man died after trying to extinguish a blaze in his second-floor apartment at Seventh and Lloyd streets.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Todd Nuttall at 610-447-8426.