TAMPA, Fla. — A mother and her two children died early Wednesday as a fire tore through an apartment building in Tampa. 

  • Mother, 2 children killed in fire in Town 'N Country-area apartment complex
  • Flames engulf parts of building containing eight units
  • 3rd fire in recent years at Captiva Club apartment complex

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue responded to the Captiva Club Apartments near Memorial Highway and Kelly Road at 3:30 a.m. 

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister made the announcement later Wednesday. Authorities have not released the names of the woman and children, ages 10 and 5, that died.

Chronister said the mother and a family friend had escaped the apartment but she realized the children were still inside. She went back into the apartment to find them but she and the children did not come out.

"I don’t even know how to comment," Chronister said. "A mother’s love to go back in and know her children maybe inside not knowing that they were inside but they maybe inside and she lost her life because of it. Is there any greater actions of love."

Firefighters reported flames shooting out of the roof of the building when they arrived to the scene. It took crews about 45 minutes to bring the fire under control.

Crews said it appears the fire started in a second floor apartment. The building has an open attic, which allowed the flames to quickly spread to other units. Chronister said the fire alarm worked and alerted many of the residents of the flames.

Ten adults and two children have been displaced by the fire. The Red Cross is assisting the families that lost their home. 

The fire remains under investigation but fire officials did say they also responded to fires at the complex in 2015 and 2018.