Three children and their grandmother died in a fire in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land last Monday as they tried to stay warm as Texas was battered by a severe winter storm.
The children, 11-year-old Olivia, eight-year-old Edison and five-year-old Colette, affectionately nicknamed Coco by her family, were identified as the victims along with their maternal grandmother, Loan Le. The children's mother, Jackie Pham Nguyen, survived the blaze.
Nguyen's Lit a Fireplace and Played Games to Stay Warm
Le moved in with her daughter, Nguyen, on Sunday, Feb. 14 after suffering a power outage at her residence, which is about five miles away from her daughter's house. The outage was due to the harsh storm that plagued Texas last week, leaving millions without electricity amid frigid conditions across the state.
"We thought we were really lucky because we still had power until the early evening," Nguyen was quoted as saying by CNN. When the power at Nguyen's house went out a few hours later, the family lit the fireplace and played games to stay warm as the Houston region descended into one of its coldest nights.
The kids went to bed around 9.30 p.m. after tiring themselves out, according to Nguyen." Tucked my kids into bed and really the next thing I know I'm in the hospital," she said. "A few hours later the fireman and police officer came and said that no one else made it."
At about 2 a.m., Sugar Land firefighters who responded to a fire reported by a neighbor who found the family's home engulfed in flames, according to Doug Adolph, a city and department spokesman. Nguyen was taken to a hospital treatment of injuries that included smoke inhalation and burns.
Cause of Fire Not Yet Determined
Nearly a week after the fire, Adolph said there were no updates on the investigation into the cause of the fire. The family had been trying to keep warm with a fireplace, according to posts on their social media accounts, Adolph said before adding that although the Nguyen family lit a fireplace the cause of the fire has not yet been determined and may never be.
"We can't say for sure that [fireplace] was the cause of the fire. We just don't know yet," he explained. "It's possible that the investigation may never identify an exact cause."
'My Heart is Broken'
"My heart is broken," Nguyen said about the loss of her mother and children. "I'm never gonna be the same. I'm in this crisis tactical mode now and I'm just really focused on all this final arrangements because this is the last sort of thing I'm going to do for my kids," Nguyen said.
Now, two separate GoFundMe pages have been set up in memory of the children. The funds will be used in a variety of ways from fire education to supporting causes in line with the siblings interests, including a scholarship at St. Laurence Catholic School in Sugar Land, where the siblings were enrolled.