GORMAN, Calif. (KGO) --Two Bay Area families suffered a devastating loss after two mothers and their four children were killed in a fiery minivan accident on Interstate 5 near the community of Gorman in Los Angeles Tuesday morning.
Officials had to hold back two hysterical fathers from the flames as they tried to rescue their family.
ABC7 News learned the children were ages 2, 3, 4 and 5 years old.
The minivan was partially in the right-hand lane after a minor wreck on Interstate 5 near the community of Gorman, about 65 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. A semi-truck going about 55 mph slammed into the van from behind, sending it off the road and down an embankment, where it quickly caught fire, CHP Officer Frank Romero said.
The two fathers, who were in the driver's and passenger seats at the time of the crash, suffered burns trying to save their wives and four children, Romero said.
They were identified as 34-year-old Aaron Hon Wing Ng of San Francisco and 45-year-old Wei Xiong Li of Daly City. The names and ages of their wives and children weren't released.
"The van went up in flames very quickly," CHP Officer Dan Williams said.
Williams and his partner were the first authorities on the scene.
The fire was burning far too fast and hot for fire extinguishers or life-saving efforts to work, Romero said.
The van burst into flames with the women and children inside. "Words can't describe it," Williams said. "It was very horrific seeing them try to get their families out, us trying to help get their families out."
He said the sliding door on the driver's side of the van was jammed, but Li and Ng were able to open the sliding door on the passenger side.
"By the time they were able to open that door the flames were already overtaking the vehicle," Romero said.
But the fire was too intense. Ultimately, the officers had to hold back the men, each a father of two. "They had burns on their arms and faces from trying to get their families out," Williams said.
His partner, Jeff Burdick, said it was hard to pull Li and Ng away from the fire.
"We just held them," Burdick said. "That's all we could do."
Li and Ng were flown to a hospital and were being treated for moderate injuries. The accident is under investigation.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.