MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Members of the Minneapolis firefighters union donated more than $1,000 to help cover the funeral costs for the three children who died in a house fire on Penn Ave. N. on Oct. 4.
Latorious, 6, Latoria, 5, and Latorianna, 1, were all killed in the fire, which officials said started in the kitchen where the oven was being used for heat. Police believe the kids were home alone at the time and have opened an investigation into the whereabouts of the mother, Taneisha Stewart.
Minneapolis firefighter Bilal Atiq was one of firefighters who responded to the call. Atiq and his partner were able to get into the house for a brief search before the intense fire pushed them back outside.
“It hurts. Nothing you can do about it. You try and you try. Nothing we could have done,” Atiq said. “It still bothers me. I’ve been on for almost 17 years. I’ve pulled adults out of fires. But never no babies. It’s hard.”
Atiq joined members of the Minneapolis firefighters Local 82 union at the Brooks Funeral Home in St. Paul to present the $1,000 donation. The funerals are scheduled for Saturday morning.
Community leaders insist now is the time to remember the young lives lost, not the time for blame and finger pointing.
“The focus needs to be on the children right now,” Minneapolis pastor John Martin said. “Let that run its course. We are here to make sure these kids get a proper burial. There will be a time and a place for that later.”
Saturday, Oct. 17
Elim Lutheran Church
3978 West Broadway, Robbinsdale, MN