Just a few days ago, at a house not too far from my own home, one mother woke up to the unthinkable. Her entire house was on fire and she couldn't get to her children. The mother, America Negron-Acevedo, jumped from her bedroom window, barely clothed in 28 degree weather and ran to her neighbors for help. When the fire department arrived, she begged them saying "save my babies". Acevedo was taken via ambulance to a local hospital while the search and rescue began.
I had the opportunity to speak with the Fire Chief, Barry Finley, for details about this case and what I learned left me speechless. When the firemen arrived Finley told me that the front of the house was fully involved, meaning completely on fire. The firemen entered through a window on the second floor of the home with fire roaring beneath them. The children's mother had been in her bedroom alone and the oldest three children were in their own rooms. They were recovered and given CPR at the scene then transported to the same hospital as their mother.
The search continued for the youngest two children, one year old twins, who were no where to be found. That's when the firemen knew that there was no way the twins were alive and their search had turned into a recovery. Once the fire was under control it was a Fire Captain that noticed what he thought was a burned stuffed animal on the first floor of the house. Sadly, it was not a toy but one of the twins. The other was found "curled into a ball" in the corner of the same room. They had both burned to death.
The older children, 9-year-old Aleysha Rosario, 3-year-old Charles Gunn and 2-year-old Ly'Asia Gunn, all died from smoke inhalation at the hospital. Two firefighters were also injured. One was treated at the scene and one was hospitalized briefly.
Their mother was flown to the Cleveland burn clinic with no knowledge of her children's conditions.
The small community quickly rallied together for the family raising money for the children's burial and the mother's needs with benefit concerts, dinners and by monetary donations. As of this moment, there is no word on when the funeral services for the children will be held but we can tell you that the entire community is holding their children a little tighter.
Section 8 inspection records state that the home DID have working smoke detectors when it was just inspected in July of this year and at this time, there is no word on the cause of the fire. Neighbors of the home described hearing a loud "boom" around the time of the fire but investigators say that there was no gas explosion of any sort. No candles left burning and no space heaters. However, sources did tell us that there were "lighters everywhere" inside of the home.
All week long, on my morning radio show, I've been preaching the importance of fire safety, having fire drills at home and the importance of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in hopes to avoid this level of tragedy again.
America Negron-Acevedo was released from the hospital in Cleveland late Thursday night and is still recovering. Family members tell us that this was a rare occasion where Acevedo and her children were all "under the same roof". Acevedo is said to be a nursing student and the children spent most of their time with their grandparents or godparents.
Donations are being accepted for the family by the community organization "Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past".