WATERTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — An upstate New York community is struggling to cope with the deaths of four children and their father in a house fire.

A funeral on Friday in Watertown will celebrate the lives of Aaron Bodah and his daughters: 4-year-old Skylar; 6-year-old Erin; 8-year-old Alexa and 14-year-old Merissa.

The fire broke out in the early hours of Valentine's Day. A fifth daughter, 13-year-old Hailey, survived after escaping from the burning home; she ran to neighbors for help.

"They were just the sweetest girls," Watertown teacher Erin Weston told WWNY. "They loved each other so much. You always saw them walking hand in hand. They loved school; they always had a smile on their face."

Skylar, the family's youngest, loved singing and ponies. Erin, a first-grader, sang, too, and also danced. Alexa, a second-grader, was a fan of video games and superheroes. Merissa, a ninth-grader, liked doing makeup with their mom, Melissa Davey, also of Watertown.

Investigators said it appeared the fire started in the kitchen where pots were left on the electric stove. They said smoke detectors had no batteries.

"We must take the lessons taught to us by this event and come together," said Fire Chief Dale Herman, "not only to support those family and friends in their grief but also to help our neighbors and responders return to their new routines and prevent future tragedy such as this from occurring in our homes."

More From WIBX 950