A devastating house fire in Sugar Land, Texas, has claimed the lives of three children and their grandmother during the unprecedented Texas winter storm last week.
What happened: Sugar Land Fire Department responded to a house fire call at around 2:15 a.m. on Feb. 16 on Vista Lakes near Edgewater, according to CNN.
- The family’s mother, Jackie Pham Nguyen, 41, and her friend Mai Bui were saved from the fire, but her three children — Olivia, 11, Edison, 8, and Colette, 5, nicknamed Coco — and their grandmother, Loan Le, 75, died from the incident.
- The two survivors suffered major burns, according to The Washington Post.
- Nguyen said her mother, Le, spent the night at her house after her own power had gone out. There was still electricity when Le arrived at Nguyen’s home, but it didn’t last long. The electricity was cut hours later, and the family lit the fireplace to keep warm during the winter storm. They played cards during the blackout and by 9:30 p.m., they all prepared for bed.
- “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.”
- It took fire officials two hours to fully contain the flame. Doug Adolph, a spokesperson for the city, said they have yet to find the cause of the fire.
- “The family had posted on social media that they were attempting to stay warm by using a fireplace inside the home,” Adolph said. “We can’t say for sure that was the cause of the fire. We just don’t know yet. It’s possible that the investigation may never identify an exact cause.”
Remembering her family: Nguyen described her children who attended St. Laurence Catholic as “phenomenal, amazing, little badass humans” while speaking to CNN.
- Her two children, Olivia and Colette, would have celebrated back-to-back birthdays on March 27 and 28. Coco was a confident child who loved to dance and create videos on TikTok, her mother explained. She aspired to be a head cheerleader and a class president.
- Olivia, her eldest, loved skiing with her mother. Even though she was only 11, Nguyen described her as “mature” and “so ahead of her peers.”
- Edison, her middle child and who also had mild autism, was a “sweet boy” who was interested in modern art and architecture. “He just had a very deep appreciation for any visual aesthetics,” Nguyen said. “So kind and so caring and so thoughtful. … You wouldn’t think an 8-year-old had that level of depth.”
- Le, a refugee from Vietnam, did all she could do to help her daughter by taking care of her grandchildren. She helped pick them up and drop them off for school and extracurriculars while Nguyen focused on reaching her professional goal in finance.
- “My parents did everything for their kids, like, as immigrants, and coming to this country and then, that love that they gave me, it was tenfold when it came to the grandkids,” Nguyen said. “I think grandmas are unsung heroes and untold stories.”
Other details: Two GoFundMe campaigns have been set up to honor Nguyen’s three children, according to KHOU11.
- The crowndfunding campaign will pay tribute to their memories with all proceeds donated to various charities that interest them, including performing and visuals arts, autism awareness, and reading and literacy.
- “Our hearts are broken right now. However, your acts of kindness have given us some comfort to pull us through. We are forever grateful to you all,” Nguyen wrote.
- A second GoFundMe page, with the blessing of their father Nathan, is collecting funds for a foundation that will provide tuition assistance at St. Laurence Catholic School, where Nguyen’s children attended, and to help raise awareness for fire safety.