PAHRUMP -- Four-year-old Zachary Broadhead knew how to give his father a send-off.
"Every time we said goodbye, I'd get a hug, a kiss on both cheeks, a high five, a thumbs up and a 'peace out,' '' Anthony Broadhead said Thursday.
Zachary and his two brothers, Elliot, 1, and Branden Smith, 6, died after being trapped in a fire that gutted their Pahrump home Wednesday. Baby sitter Crystal Smiley, 24, also died in the fire. The Nye County Sheriff's Office formally identified the victims Thursday night.
The surviving members of the Broadhead family -- the parents and two school-age daughters -- have been scattered to the homes of relatives while investigators with the Nevada State Fire Marshal's Office sift through the ashes left by the deadly blaze. The cause of the fire and where it started have not yet been identified.
The 27-year-old grieving father spoke briefly Thursday about the lives cut short by the tragedy.
"Brandon loved school," Broadhead said of his stepson. "He would learn things and then come home and teach us." The boy also had a strong sense of right and wrong, Broadhead said. "He always tried to do the right thing, and when he didn't, he regretted it."
Broadhead used to call his youngest son "Lashes."
The 1-year-old had incredibly long eyelashes, the father said. And Elliot had just begun to make mischief.
"He was just learning all of the bad habits of his older brothers," Broadhead said.
Pahrump Fire Chief Scott Lewis said an announcement about the cause of the fire might be made late today.
"This was a heavy fire," Lewis said Thursday, adding that it generated extraordinary heat. "We had to shore up the roof. The majority of the floor structure is gone."
While the cause of the fire remains unknown, there is no doubting the impact the fatalities had on those who tried to save the victims.
"We could hear them screaming," said David Taylor, a neighbor who tried to rescue those trapped in the fast-moving fire on Prospector Lane, which was reported about 9:30 a.m.
"I kept yelling, 'Come to my voice! Come to my voice!' But they never did," Taylor said. "And I just couldn't get to them."
In the room where two of the boys died, a fire-charred crib stood next to a window. A red blanket was draped over the sill.
"That's where I pulled out one of the children," said Taylor, 23, pointing to the room with the crib. "He was right there, face down on the floor. Me and a firefighter pulled him out."
Taylor said the boys' mother, 29-year-old Sharon Broadhead, was hysterical.
"She was screaming, 'My babies! My babies!' " Taylor recalled. He said she also told him about the baby sitter, who was on the other side of the home.
"She was on the floor, unconscious," said Taylor of Smiley.
Roger Taylor, David's father, said rescuers were desperate to save lives.
Firefighter Nate Alexander dove through the children's window "like he jumped on a trampoline," the older Taylor said. "It was chaos. I tried to get in but the smoke made me retch. I can still hear the children screaming."
Roger Taylor, who lives next to the gutted home, said the fire spread fast. He was watching television Wednesday morning when the sun just disappeared. "I looked outside and there were flames and black smoke coming out of every window. It was totally engulfed."
Cassandra Martin drove to the home Thursday to pay her respects to the victims.
"My boys played with their boys," said Martin, who races at Pahrump Valley Speedway on weekends. Chad Broadhead, Anthony's father and the boys' grandfather, owns the track.
Lewis, who became fire chief of the desert town roughly 60 miles west of Las Vegas about nine years ago, said he arrived at the scene minutes after the 911 call was made.
Firefighters attempted a rescue but conditions impaired those efforts. Firefighters kept falling through the floor and the roof began to sag, he said.
In the end, Lewis carried out one of the children.
"I'm not sure what you tell (the parents)," said Lewis. "I think they know we've done everything in our power."
Contact reporter Doug McMurdo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5512.