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Mother, four children killed in fiery car crash in California

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[February 17, 2014]  By Victoria Cavaliere

(Reuters)  A woman and her four children died in a fiery collision in central California after a driver failed to yield at a stop sign and slammed into their sports utility vehicle, the California Highway Patrol said Sunday.

The 29-year-old woman, whose identity has not been released, was driving a Ford SUV carrying her four children, ages 1, 3, 6, and 11, when it was broadsided by a minivan on Saturday evening in Fresno, the patrol said. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

The family's vehicle was thrown across the intersection and immediately burst into flames, according to Officer Axel Reyes, a patrol spokesman.

The children's father, who has traveling in a different car behind his family, suffered burns as he tried to free them.

"He didn't see the actual impact but arrived seconds later and rushed to the burning car," Reyes said. "By that point, the car was almost fully engulfed."

Authorities said they did not suspect the driver of the minivan, a 41-year-old woman, was under the influence of drugs or alcohol but "an investigation was continuing," Reyes said.

Neither car appeared to be speeding at the time of the wreck, he said. The speed limit in the area is 55 miles per hour (88 km per hour).

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Authorities have not yet decided whether to file criminal charges.

"It's just unfortunate," Reyes said. "We get our share of these intersection accidents but this one just turned out worse than the other ones. It's tragic, really."

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Amanda Kwan)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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