MINNEAPOLIS – Three children are dead following a house fire in north Minneapolis Saturday night.

According to the Minneapolis Fire Department (MFD), crews were called to a home on the 2700 block of Penn Avenue N. at 11:57 p.m. Upon arrival, the first floor was already engulfed in flames.

Inside, firefighters found the bodies of two children on the first floor. The third child, found on the second floor, was taken to the hospital and died there. All three children were under the age of seven years old.

“I tried to do everything and anything in my power to get them out of there,” said the children’s mother, Tenisha Stewart.

Stewart came back to the home Sunday before a vigil took place at 5 p.m. She was surrounded by friends and family. The family had just moved in.

“I loved my children. I’d do anything in the world for my children. I should be the one who’s dead, not them. That’s how much I love my children,” she said, while hugging her mother.

According to MFD Chief John Fruetel, the fire started in the kitchen and a stove door was open. Chief Fruetel believes they family was using the stove as a heat source.

“Do not use your ovens or stove tops for heating appliances. If you’re experiencing cold conditions in the city of Minneapolis, we have avenues where you can report that,” Chief Fruetel said.

In a news conference, Chief Fruetel was joined by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges who said, ” The heart of Minneapolis aches tonight for the loss of these three children.”

The homeowner did not want to give his name but spoke to KARE 11 at the scene. He said Stewart called him Saturday when temperatures dipped into the 40s.

“I told them, why you turn the oven on. All night. All night,” he said.

The homeowner said he had called someone to fix the heating system. “I called them, I say, ‘I need right away.’ And then they say, ‘Okay, 8 o’clock this morning today.’ They came. Now everything is gone,” he said.

Pastor Harding Smith of Spiritual Church of God said the family attended his church.

A gathering will take place Tues. Oct. 6 at Holsey Memorial Christian Methodist Church, 1229 Logan Avenue, at 6 p.m.

Rev. Annie Hester and Min. John Martin are asking people to bring donations for the children’s funerals. Hester can be reached at 612-839-6164.

The fire is under investigation.