Officials say nine people, including at least six children, are dead in an apartment fire in Mississippi.

State fire marshal Mike Chaney says the pre-dawn fire happened at an apartment complex on Mississippi Highway 25-South in Starkville.

Oktibbeha (OCH-tibb-bee-ha) County Coroner Michael Hunt also confirmed the deaths. He says the fire was reported about 4 a.m.

Starkville, with about 24,000 full-time residents, is home to Mississippi State University. The school's winter break began Dec. 19 and ends Jan. 4. The university is the state's largest, with about 18,500 students and 1,000 faculty members.

The city is about 115 miles from Jackson, Miss., Birmingham, Ala., and Memphis, Tenn.