Four people killed in a house fire Saturday morning in Cordova died of smoke inhalation following an accidental electrical fire, according to the Nebraska State Fire Marshal's Office.

Crystal Vickrey, 39; Tiara Schwab, 20; Brittney Newsome, 19; and Kaden Newsome, 12, were killed in the blaze at 250 Helen St., which started because of an electrical failure in an extension cord, spokeswoman Alyssa Sanders said in a news release.

This fatal fire marks the deadliest blaze in the state since October 2016, when embers from a fireplace sparked a fire at a home in rural Nehawka and killed a family of six, Sanders said.

Saturday, fire crews from Cordova and surrounding communities responded at about 7:30 a.m. and found the house fully-engulfed, with smoke and flames coming out the front door and a window at the southwest corner of the residence.

Six people were in the home about 20 miles southeast of York at the time of the fire and two were able to escape, authorities said.

State investigators couldn't determine whether smoke detectors were working properly because of the extent of damage, Sanders said.

The Seward County Sheriff's Office declined to identify the survivors of the fire, citing privacy concerns.

Kaden Newsome was a seventh-grader at Friend Public School, Superintendent David Kraus said.

“He was a fun, well-liked kid here,” Kraus said.

The 12-year-old was a member of the Friend FFA and Boy Scout Troop No. 212 in Crete, according to his obituary.

"He had a very creative mind with a gift for numbers," his family said in the obituary.

During the summer, Kaden Newsome played baseball. He enjoyed Minecraft videos and games, building with Legos and reading.

The school brought in counselors Sunday and 15 students came to the school, which has kept its crisis team available to students and staff this week, Kraus said.

Kaden's sister, Brittney Newsome, a 2018 graduate of Friend High School, was a freshman studying business and accounting at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, a UNK spokesman said in a news release.

The 19-year-old played in the school's marching band, sang in the UNK choir and bonded with her music sorority sisters at Alpha Sigma Phi, according to her obituary.

"Our hearts go out to her family and friends," a UNK spokesman said in a news release. "We share your grief for Brittney. She will be remembered with fondness and pride for her accomplishments here.”

Their mother, Vickrey, worked as a department manager at the Walmart in York, where her husband, Robert Vickrey, also worked, according to her obituary.

The mother of four enjoyed bowling, bowled for a breast cancer fundraiser and also walked for an MS fundraiser.

She supported Friend Public Schools through the Friend Booster Club.

"Crystal made the best meatloaf, even though she didn’t like it," her obituary said.

Vickrey loved dressing up in a theme for holidays and special events, though her favorite holiday was Christmas, the obituary said.

Schwab, 20, graduated in 2017 from Friend High School and worked at the Casey's in Crete, according to her obituary.

In high school, she dreamed of opening a cupcake shop, her family said in her obituary. She was creative and enjoyed experimenting with food.

"She was especially proud to bake her great-grandma's heavenly brownies from scratch," the obituary said.

"Tiara loved animals, enjoyed fishing, reading, spending time with her grandmother at the cabin and with her friends."

She will remembered at a memorial service Friday at 10:30 a.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Cordova.

A memorial service for Vickrey and Brittney and Kaden Newsome will be Saturday in the Friend Public School's old gymnasium.

Memorial funds have been set up for both the Newsome and Schwab families at First Bank of Utica in Cordova.

Donations can be made in person or mail at all branch locations in Cordova, Friend, Utica and Milligan.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.


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