PAHRUMP -- They could hear the baby crying, but they couldn't reach him.
Frantic neighbors smashed windows with rocks, but smoke and flames drove them back as a fast-moving blaze ripped through a home Wednesday morning in this town 60 miles west of Las Vegas.
The 1-year-old boy died in the fire with two other boys, ages 3 and 4, and a woman, 24.
The woman was trying to call for help when she succumbed to the smoke.
"She died on the phone with 911," Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo said.
Scott Lewis, chief of the Pahrump Valley Fire-Rescue Service, said firefighters pulled the three children out of the burning home, but they were pronounced dead a short time later at Desert View Regional Medical Center in Pahrump.
Investigators from the Nevada State Fire Marshal's Office are in Pahrump trying to determine what sparked the fire.
Lewis wouldn't speculate on the cause or where in the home the flames originated. "We're keeping our minds open to every possibility," he said.
The fire was reported about 9:30 a.m., and there was "heavy fire with thick black smoke in all the windows" when the first firefighters arrived on scene, Lewis said.
Before that, about a dozen neighbors tried to rescue those trapped inside the home on Prospector Lane, a narrow paved street of widely spaced manufactured homes on Pahrump's west side. Among them were an off-duty sheriff's deputy and a volunteer firefighter from the Nevada National Security Site north of Pahrump.
"All the neighbors were trying to pull them out, breaking windows and stuff," said Mike Rhoads, who lives two doors down from the double-wide mobile home that burned.
"The saddest part is you could hear the baby crying and nobody could get to" him, said Charlene Gamble, Rhoads' fiancée.
Rhoads said he tried to run a garden hose over to the burning structure, but it wasn't long enough.
He helped break some of the windows out. Then he crouched on the ground so another man could step on his back and climb into the home.
Rhoads said the man disappeared into the thick black smoke for about 10 seconds before he lunged back out the window, his glasses and face coated in dark soot.
Roger Taylor, another neighbor, also tried to climb into the building.
"I got halfway through the window and the smoke choked me out," he said. "I spent the rest of the time coughing and puking in the front yard."
The mother of the three boys ran around the chaotic scene in a panic, her hands cut and bleeding from broken glass.
"She was running back and forth in front of the house screaming, " Taylor said.
"She wanted to get in there," Gamble added.
Lewis said the woman, whose name was not released, was the only occupant of the double-wide mobile home who got out alive.
Rhoads said he was standing there when firefighters brought the three children out one by one. He said one boy wasn't breathing at all. Another boy, maybe the oldest, was drawing ragged gasps of air.
"He was struggling. He'd take a deep breath and then he'd stop," Rhoads said.
A firefighter with burns on his neck and a sheriff's deputy who inhaled too much smoke were treated at the hospital in Pahrump.
DeMeo said a second deputy and the volunteer firefighter from the Nevada National Security Site were taken to a hospital in Las Vegas for additional treatment.
Lewis said the mother of the three boys also was treated for smoke inhalation and the cuts on her hands.
The off-duty deputy who rushed to the fire from his residence nearby was treated at the scene for minor injuries, DeMeo said.
None of the injuries was believed to be life-threatening.
Authorities wouldn't reveal the names of the victims on Wednesday, but the Pahrump Valley Times identified the woman who died as Crystal Smiley, a baby sitter for the three boys.
The Pahrump newspaper, which is owned by the parent company of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, identified the boys' parents as Sharon and Anthony Broadhead.
Neighbors said the mother and children moved into the home about five months ago. Few seemed to know the family except in passing.
Taylor said, "Their children played with my children and my grandchildren at the Super Bowl party we just had."
Darla Gamble, Charlene's mother, said all the people on Prospector Lane may not be on a first-name basis, but they look out for each other.
"You may not talk to your neighbors much, but everyone ran to help," she said.
Taylor still seemed shaken by the experience as he talked about it Wednesday afternoon, but he was better than he had been earlier in the day.
"I was just trembling," Taylor said as he sipped a can of beer to calm his nerves. "It took me an hour to realize that we just tried to pull people out of a burning building."
Contact reporter Henry Brean at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0350.