A house in Youngstown where five children died in a fire was demolished Monday.
The children’s mother, America Negron Acevedo, survived the fire but suffered injuries. Negron jumped from a second story window after she realized she could not rescue her children and called for help.
Investigators ruled the fire accidental. Fire Investigator Kurt Wright said the fire was caused by a lighter or match and that is started on the first floor. The family used the mattress that caught on fire when they watched TV together in the living room. Wright said Negron had been smoking on the mattress before the fire.
The tragedy took its toll of firefighters. Wright said crews did their best to locate the children in the house, but the fire was intense.
The investigation took several months to complete as Wright tried to give the family time to heal but noted that Negron did not initially cooperate with that investigation.
The outpouring of support from the community was immense as community leaders organized a fundraiser to help with funeral expenses and to assist Negron with finding housing.
Before the demolition took place, a prayer service was held in memory of the children: 9-year-old Aleysh Rosario; 3-year-old Charles Gunn; 2-year-old Ly’Asia Gunn; and 1-year-old twins Brianna and Arianna Negron.
Community leaders, family and neighbors gathered in front of the burned out house calling the young victims “flowers in God’s garden.” Most of the people who gathered had contributed to raise money for previous funeral expenses.
Elder Rose Carter sprinkled holy oil on the ground during the prayer. Although the children’s mother was not there, the group prayed beside Charles Gunn, the father of four of the children.
With one worker manning a hose to keep down the dust, the excavator made quick work of the house and it was home within less than 20 minutes.
The owner of the property, who had been renting the house to the family when the fire broke out, paid to have it demolished. Members of a church congregation down the street will maintain it until a new purpose is found.
Organizers of the morning vigil promise what started as a terrible tragedy months ago will have a new beginning.
“We’re going to remember them, and we’re going to make this a place that’ll be something in their memory,” said Anita Davis.