Long, painful day for many in Mercer County

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An early morning fire just south of Sherrard, Illinois, has taken the lives of five people and devastated the small community. The timeline of Wednesday's events prove it's been a long, long day in Mercer County.

"Gotta be one of the most difficult things we've seen in a while," said resident Larry Rains.

The day actually began before dawn, when fire engulfed a mobile home near the intersection of 300th Street and 140th Avenue around 1 a.m.

Firefighters from Sherrard, Orion, Viola and Coyne Center fought the blaze, but just before 7 a.m., the news came that the fire had been deadly.

"It's terrible... I know the family, know the kids, it's... I don't really know what to say," said neighbor Joe Walsh.

Related: A neighbor remembers, grieves.

An hour later, emergency workers removed bodies from the home's burned remains. They belonged to a mom and four kids, the oldest of whom was just 15 years old. A father and two boys managed to escape.

As afternoon arrived, firefighters remained on the scene -- nearly 12 hours after the fire broke out. As the long day drew to end, for many, the mourning process was only beginning.

"It just makes you sick. I mean, I've seen some things in my life, but nothing, nothing hits like this," said Rains.

Names of the family and victims have not yet been released. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.