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Community comes together after children killed in fire
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Family and friends are sharing their memories of 3 young children, killed in an apartment fire in Kalamazoo.
3-year-old twins Tevin and Teniya Williams, and their little sister, 1-year-old Tyonna Henderson, died Monday afternoon after a fire broke out at the Interfaith Homes complex off Interfaith Boulevard.
Investigators say they were left home alone and couldn't escape.
Police have spent the day Tuesday interviewing several witnesses, including the boyfriend twice.
They are still trying to determine the cause of the fire as well, as early reports said it was due to cooking, another claims it was due to smoking.
The investigation is ongoing, but there is no anger there now, just pain.
Family members stared at photos of Tyonna, with sadness and disbelief the rule of the day.
"We're not mad. We're not angry. We're not blaming any side of the family," said the children's great-grandmother Jacqueline Fullerton. "We're not blaming her for anything. Let her know we hurt, she hurt."
Family told us they could hear the children crying inside, but that their 4-year-old sister was able to make it out.
A grandfather figure to the kids, Sly Jackson told Newschannel 3 that he helped raise the kids, and recalled what he told the 4-year-old about fires.
"I told her to get out, if she (sees) a fire, any kind of fire, get out of the house," Jackson said.
Investigators say it appears the mother left the kids in the care of the boyfriend, and he stepped out of the apartment, leaving them alone.
However, there is too much conflicting information at this juncture to make a definitive statement.
Tuesday, however, was about memories.
"They loved candy; I would always buy them candy and stuff, and they loved me too; they would always call me Pa-Pa," recalled Jackson. "So I'm going to miss them very much."
Relatives want everyone to know these kids were very loved and cherished.
As reminders of what happened at Interfaith Homes sit on the playground, investigators say that charges may be possible, but that there is much more work to be done.
Police aren't saying right now where the fire started.
Everyone is coming together for the families, though, and churches are joining in as well.
Mount Zion is collecting clothes and things for the 4-year-old survivor.
The Douglass Community Association is collecting clothes and toys for her as well. She wears size 3-T clothes, a size 4-T coat, and size 9 shoes.
Items can be dropped off at the Mothers of Hope Office inside the Douglass Community Association.
Gracy Mercy Luv Ministries has also set up a Facebook page for donations.
Wednesday at 5:00 p.m., there will be a prayer vigil at the Interfaith Homes Neighborhood Network Center.
In addition, members of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety gave hot chocolate and stuffed animals to the other children impacted by the fire after they got off the school bus this afternoon.