Lois Cummings, a neighbor who lives about a quarter-mile away, said she didn't know the family well either but called the grandmother "a sweet, sweet lady."
"And the grandkids were awesome," she said. "They were great neighbors. It's a sad situation whenever a whole family gets killed like that."
Family friend Verla Longfellow said the three children were smart, well-mannered and obedient.Mark Lambert, assistant state fire marshal, said there was no sign of smoke detectors in the home, and he noted that has been the case with several recent fires.
"We do tend to see more fires in the winter -- often heat-related," Lambert said. He encouraged others to invest in smoke detectors for their homes.
The lack of smoke detectors in recent fatal fires has prompted local officials to address the issue.
"Smoke detectors are a big problem around here," Jason Baltic, an investigator for the Fire Marshal's Office, said earlier. "I don't know why people don't put them in their houses. They're maybe $10. It doesn't make any sense.
"Everybody thinks that it won't happen to me, but at any time anything can happen to anybody. The majority of fire fatalities are accidental fires, and a lot of them are children."
Deputy State Fire Marshal Carol Nolte said the office is often asked what types of smoke detectors are best. Although they do not endorse any particular brands, they recommend combination smoke alarms that sense photoelectric (slower fires) and ionization (faster, flaming fires).
"Back in the '70s, the ionization technology was what consumers had access to, but as with any other technology, designs and functions are continually improving," Nolte said. "We do recommend that folks put a smoke detector on every level of the home, in hallways adjacent to bedrooms, and even inside bedrooms.
"It's a code requirement that all property owners of residential properties (one- and two-family dwellings) must provide and install working smoke alarms."
The fire is under investigation but the destruction was so complete that fire marshals say they may never determine the cause.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.