A Christmas tree that caught fire in a Detroit area home triggered a blaze that killed six children and their father, who had fought his way back inside the burning house in a futile bid to rescue them.

The dead children included 5-year-old twins.The blaze began late Saturday when a Christmas tree in the family room of the brick-and-wooden-sided ranch home in the Detroit suburb of Canton Township caught fire and flames spread throughout the single-story structure, fire marshall Art Winkel said Sunday.

The father, Martin Dellorco, 38, had escaped from the burning home but went back inside to try to rescue some of his nine children.