Soul veteran Stevie Wonder is paying for the funerals of five Philadelphia children who recently died in a house fire.

The 55-year-old musician was so heartbroken after hearing about the 12 June (05) blaze, he immediately expressed his desire to help the family.

His publicist, IRA TUCKER, says, "I don't think he's ever done anything like this before. It's just good that something can be lifted from them."

Wonder also hopes to visit the families while he is in Philadelphia for the LIVE 8 concert on 2 July (05).

Tucker adds, "Stevie feels good about this. It's been just a heart-wrenching thing."

The blaze, which occurred in the city's Kensington neighbourhood, killed three sisters, SUMMER COOKE, five; SAMANTHA BOWERS, four; and SABRINA DICKSON, one; and two of their cousins, AMBER JOHNSON, three; and REGINALD RINGGOLD, one.

The three sisters' mother, SHANNON BOWERS, 21, and her boyfriend, LESTER COOKE, 33, escaped by jumping from a second floor window into a children's paddling pool on the pavement.

Investigators are yet to determine what caused the fire.

17/06/2005 19:16