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Three children and their grandmother died in a house fire last week near Houston in a power outage as historic cold swept through Texas, local officials said.

Firefighters arrived at Jackie Pham Nguyen’s home shortly after receiving an emergency call around 2 a.m. on February 16, according to Doug Adolph, a spokesperson for the town of Sugar Land.

The structure was already “engulfed” in flames, Adolph said, with Nguyen outside the house. Nguyen, the mother of three, “had to be physically prevented from entering her burning house,” Adolph said.

After extinguishing the fire, firefighters found the bodies of three children and their grandmother.

Adolph said their neighborhood had been without power for hours and the family had posted on social media that they were turning on their fireplace to stay warm in the dark.

However, Adolph warned that the investigation was ongoing. “We have not yet identified the cause of the fire, and we may never do,” he said.

In an interview with CNN, Nguyen remembered her children, Olivia, 11, Edison, 8, and Colette, 5, as “phenomenal, incredible, tough little humans”, and her mother as a refugee from the Vietnam, who arrived in Kansas with nothing, sacrificed a lot for her children and whose love was “tenfold for the grandchildren”.

Jackie Pham Nguyen did not immediately respond to an NBC News request for comment, nor did Nathan Nguyen, the father of the children.

Two online crowdfunding pages, hosted by both parents and verified by GoFundMe, remember children as “eternal sources of light and wonder” and “angels” with “funky and sassy attitudes”.

Together, the Pages raised hundreds of thousands of dollars on Friday night.

In a statement on the fundraising page, Jackie Pham Nguyen thanked donors for their support, saying that ideally “we would be delighted to honor Olivia, Edison and Colette with a lasting foundation of some sort.”

“Our hearts are broken right now,” Nguyen wrote. “However, your acts of kindness have given us some comfort to get us out of the woods. We are eternally grateful to you.”

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