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MOTHER OF CHILDREN KILLED IN FIRE CHARGED

The mother of six of seven children killed in an apartment fire was charged Tuesday with involuntary manslaughter after investigators discovered she was visiting a neighbor at the time, a prosecutor said.

Melinda Ragland was at an apartment about 80 yards away when the blaze started, prosecutor John Weglian said.

The children, ages 6 months to 7 years, died of smoke inhalation Oct. 24 after the fire started on a mattress in an upstairs bedroom. Investigators said a child playing with a candle, lighter or matches started the blaze. Six siblings and a cousin were killed.

Ragland could get two to 10 years in prison on each of seven counts of involuntary manslaughter if convicted.

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