FORT EDWARD -- Many of the flags that line Route 4 throughout the village were already at half-staff to honor fallen soldier Spc. Benjamin Osborn.
Now, just a few yards away stands the scarred shell of a house on Burgoyne Avenue in a community that has lost more than it can bear.
"My heart is just broken over those children," said Gerryanne Spring, who lives across the street from the home that was destroyed Saturday morning by a fire that took the lives six children sleeping inside.
Spring said she would watch the children, on weekday mornings, nicely dressed and waiting for the bus to take them to school.
Early Saturday morning, Spring looked out her front door and saw flames shooting up through the house across the street.
She said she saw a woman who was burned in the fire, sitting cross-legged on her lawn, holding a child. Nearby, a man who she said was also burned, was trying to get back into the house engulfed in flames.
"He kept yelling, ‘Save my kids,’" Spring said. "They were trying to get back in the house, but they couldn’t. The heat, it was horrible."
On Sunday afternoon, 27-year-old Glens Falls resident Tonya Hoffman visited the damaged house, and stood with tear-filled eyes near an impromptu vigil on the sidewalk in front of the home. There were flowers, several lit candles, a statue of the Virgin Mary, an American flag and a handful of stuffed animals, including a teddy bear fixed with a ribbon and a sign that read, "Courage."
Hoffman’s 5-year-old son, Noah Bosford, was the seventh child sleeping over at the house. He was the only one who got out.
"He’s mentioned things, different pieces about the fire," Hoffman said. "He was sleeping when it happened and he said the flames were on the door."
Noah was treated at Glens Falls Hospital and released. On Sunday, he was back at home with Hoffman.
Noah’s father, 32-year-old Mark Bosford, was living at the house, Hoffman said. He has visitation rights with Noah on Fridays and Saturdays.
Hoffman said Bosford told her left early Saturday morning to pick up his brother from work. When he returned, he could see smoke rising from the home.
Bosford’s girlfriend, Mary, whose last name was not available Sunday, was staying at the home that night.
Hoffman said Mary pushed an air conditioner through a ground-floor window, lifted up Noah, and placed him, safely, outside, before she herself climbed outside.
"She saved my son’s life," Hoffman said. "Mary is a hero to me."
Friends of the victims have started raising funds for the survivors.
Robin Renaud, whose daughter worked with one of the parents burned in the fire, said there will be a spaghetti dinner on July 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Fort Edward Firehouse. The event will feature raffles, a silent auction and a bake sale.
Renaud also plans to set up an account for donations at Glens Falls National Bank and Trust. She noted the surviving parents will have funeral expenses and medical bills, in addition to losing their home.
For more information, contact Renaud’s daughter, LeeAnne Gould, at email@example.com or at 944-3524.