Aunt, 2 children killed in Midtown house fire - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Aunt, 2 children killed in Midtown house fire

Aunt and two nieces killed in fire (Left to right: A'rihanna, Crystal Rodgers, Taylor) (Source: Family) Aunt and two nieces killed in fire (Left to right: A'rihanna, Crystal Rodgers, Taylor) (Source: Family)
(WMC Action News 5) (WMC Action News 5)

Family members slowly returned to a charred and broken home just hours after a fire ripped through the home.

The flames killed 7-year-old A'rhianna Kimble, 5-year-old Taylor Kimble and their aunt, Crystal Rodgers.

"Words can't describe how I'm feeling or how I was feeling when I heard the news," said the girls' uncle, Darius Rodgers. "I wasn't prepared to hear that my sister and my two nieces died or passed away."

The girls' father, who was working the nightshift Wednesday, said his sister was babysitting his 5- and 7-year-old daughters when the fire started. 

A neighbor said the girls screamed as the fire tore through their home.

"I heard the little kids in there doing, extremely crying and hollering, knocking on the windows and the doors and everything," recalled neighbor Jesse Franklin. "And they had stopped."

Fire officials said that the home, located in the 1700 block of Nelson Avenue, did not have a working smoke detector.  Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire.

"This is a tragic situation that no one should have to experience," said Memphis Fire Department spokesman Lieutenant Wayne Cooke. "Firefighters, it hit us to the core. We're very concerned. Our hearts go out to this family, and we're in prayer for them."

The Memphis Fire Department said the three relatives could have been saved if the house had a working smoke alarm.

"Time is of the essence," Cooke explained. "Every minute counts when there is a fire situation in your home."

According to MFD, six people have lost their lives in fires this year.  Firefighters said prevention is key when it comes to protecting your family.

Memphis residents can receive a free smoke alarm at any local fire station or at the Fire Museum of Memphis.

The family said they didn't have any life insurance policies on the girls or the aunt.  Now, they continue to grieve as they take on the heavy burden of rebuilding their home while they plan three funerals for lives taken far too soon.

A Memphis funeral home offered free services for the family.

"I'm hurt," Rodgers added. "I feel anger, mad. I want someone to blame, but I can't, you know? It's just-- I just got to deal with it. There's nothing I can do about it."

The family will host a vigil Friday night at 7 p.m.

To donate to the family, click here.

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