Friends and the community are responding with fundraising and other help for the family of two little girls, ages 2 and 3, who died in a fire Saturday night that destroyed their home in Barn Mobile Home Park just outside south of Statesboro.
Statesboro Fire Chief Tim Grams said a call about a fire with victims possibly trapped inside was received just before midnight at the mobile home park near US Hwy 301 South , about 800 meters south of the ring road. Firefighters were dispatched at 11:49 p.m.
Units from the Statesboro and Bulloch County Fire Departments have arrived to find fire and smoke from the older model mobile home in Lot 53, Grams said Monday morning.
An unidentified woman at the scene told firefighters that two children were still inside the house and were likely in a room at the back of the structure. Grams said firefighters entered the building to search for the children and begin to put out the blaze.
The firefighters were able to quickly locate and remove the two victims from the house. However, Grams said attempts by firefighters and emergency medical service personnel to resuscitate the toddlers had failed and both were pronounced dead at the scene.
“Any death from a fire is tragic, but when children are involved it is especially heartbreaking,” Grams said in a press release. “Despite the best efforts of our firefighters, the amount of fire and smoke present when the units arrived on the scene made it unlikely that anyone could survive this extreme environment.
“Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to the families of the two children.”
Two little girls
Bulloch County Coroner Jake Futch confirmed on Monday that the children were Itzayana Figueroa, 3, and Monica Figueroa, 2.
A friend of their family, Lori Pollard, set up a donation page, titled “Itzayana & Monica’s Funeral Expenses,” Sunday afternoon at www.gofundme.com. His stated goal was to raise $ 25,000 to “lighten the burden as this family endures the unthinkable” with the money going first to funeral expenses and then to the costs of securing the family another place to live. In about 24 hours, by 5 p.m. Monday, the GoFundMe effort had received 180 donations totaling $ 10,795, according to totals posted on the webpage. Called earlier today, Pollard said funeral costs and shelter were the two most pressing needs right now. People who wish to donate can also do so through Joiner Anderson Funeral Home “in the care of Itzayana and Monica,” she added. “Of course (the family members) are very grateful for all the help,” Pollard said. She said she was not ready to share information about surviving family members. The Fostering Bulloch Hope Chest helped them with clothes and the Statesboro Food Bank provided them with food, she said.
The cause of the fire remained unknown Monday morning. Grams said the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia State Fire Marshal’s Office will continue an investigation into the blaze, which occurred outside of city limits but in the District of Statesboro Fire Department’s five-mile service. At least one adult was said to have been in the house with the children when the blaze started, but authorities were still trying to determine exactly who was present, Grams said. Firefighters saw smoke detectors in the house destroyed by the fire and noted this fact in their report, he said. “When the cold weather starts, we tend to see an increase in home fires,” Grams said. “Again, I’m not sure what exactly was the cause of this one, but that should remind us how critical smoke detectors are, and there were smoke detectors in this house, but we didn’t know not if they were running on time. “