The victims have yet to be positively identified by the coroner, although the children were ages 6, 8 and 11, Seneca County officials said.
The home was owned by Joseph Hamilton, who worked at Solae in Bellevue. Hamilton has a wife, Holly, and between the two of them they have three children — Olivia, 11, Jaxon, 8, and a 6-year-old boy, according to a family member.
A truck driver headed down a rural road called Seneca County 911 at about 3:15 a.m., upon spotting a home burning in the distance.
When volunteer firefighters from the Attica-Venice-Reed fire department arrived at the Township Road 124 home at about 3:30 a.m., the home was fully engulfed.
Firefighters from the Huron River Joint Fire District, Monroeville and Bellevue soon showed up to lend a hand. They snuffed the blaze by about 6 a.m.
To view more photos of the search, click HERE
“No one knows how long it was burning before that trucker came by,” Seneca County spokesman Dean Henry said.
Neighbor Gene Rospert said he woke up at about 3:30 a.m., when the first fire truck drove by his home.
“I looked out and saw the flames,” he said.
At 11:30 a.m., dozens of firefighters were still at the scene, sifting through the smokey ashes as a big, yellow backhoe tore down the home's blackened shell.
The Ohio State Fire Marshal's inspectors were also on hand.
“It's going to be days or weeks before we know what caused it,” said Tim Spradlin, the fire marshal's chief investigator. “We don’t have much to work with.”
About 50 yards away, Russ Bondy sat watching inside his Ford F150, parked on the shoulder of the one-lane road.
“They’re looking for the bodies now,” he said. “My granddaughter is one of them.”
Bondy said he was deer hunting nearby when he got the call.
“She was a smart kid,” he said. “She just turned 12.”
His granddaughter had just finished her first volleyball season.
“She was built just like me and her father — tall and lanky,” he said. “She was a great kid.”
He was still sitting in his truck at about 2 p.m.
Nearby, Rospert was staring into the ashes while leaning against a makeshift post strung with caution tape.
“It's a damn shame,” he said. “They were good people.”
He remembered the children playing in rows of straw this past fall, after farmers had mowed the wheat fields.
“Boy, those kids had a ball out playing in the straw piles,” he said, shaking his head. “They were always outside playing.”
The Hamilton family had been on vacation in Wisconsin this past weekend, Rospert said, and he was unsure about when they had returned.