LUMPKIN COUNTY, Ga. -- Two young children were killed in a fire at a Lumpkin County home on Monday.

The flames engulfed the home on Rider Road Spur NE, just off of Highway 9, between Dawsonville and Dahlonega.

Lumpkin County officials confirmed that two children, ages 1 and 2, were taken to North Side Hospital in Cumming and Chestatee Regional Hospital Dahlonega, Ga., where they were both pronounced dead.

Cheri Hewell lives next door and told 11Alive News that when she ran up to the burning house, the mother was just outside, frantic and in tears. Hewell said the mother told her she wasn't sure if her two youngest children were inside, she thought and hoped that her husband had taken them with the oldest child to the store.

The mother works nights, and believed her husband had told her he would take all three children to the store so she could take a nap.

The smell of smoke woke up the mother, Hewell said, and she ran outside thinking there was a fire outside. The moment she saw that her own house was on fire, it was spreading so quickly she could not get back inside to check to see if, in fact, the children had left with their father.

Firefighters were already on the way to the house. Hewell's fiancee was able to reach the father on his cell phone as the father was returning from the store. The father said that only their oldest child, their six year old daughter, was with him. The two youngest, he said, were inside the house. He raced home.

"He was very in shock," Hewell said. "He was saying, 'What happened, what happened, how did this start, how did this start, I don't understand.'"

Lumpkin County fire crews were at the house until late into the night.

"My heart just goes out to the family," said Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard. And Sheriff Jarrard said first responders, who risked their lives trying to save the children, were also grieving.

"It is a very emotional situation" for everyone, Sheriff Jarrard said, his voice breaking. "It's just very, very sad."

Sheriff Jarrard said firefighters received the 911 call at 4:16 p.m. Monday. The first units arrived at 4:31, "and they found the double-wide fully involved."

"I pray for the famiily, I pray for the family," Hewell said, "and that they will find comfort and strength in God."

The State Fire Marshal arrived at the house Monday night to lead the investigation into the cause of the fire.

PHOTOS: Lumpkin County fire