EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (KMOV.com) – A grief-stricken Linda Barton cried for her daughter Sabrina Dunigan, whose children are now gone after flames engulfed her East St. Louis home with all of her five children inside.
“it wasn’t one kid, it wasn’t even two, it was all of them. She lost all her children,” said Barton, crying as dozens of family members gathered right outside of Sabrina’s home Saturday.
Five children were killed in an overnight fire in East St. Louis.
“No matter what went on in her life, she was always with her kids. Good, bad, thick, thin, it didn’t matter,” said Barton.
Sabrina was also present outside of the home Saturday afternoon, but she was too emotional to speak with News 4. Instead, she grieved around her friends and families in front of the memorial of balloons and stuffed animals created in her children’s honor.
“Be strong for her, pray for her. Right now, she needs it, everybody’s gone. She lost her kids. Right now she needs strength. That’s all we can give her right now,” said Travis Askew, Sabrina’s fiancé. “I loved those kids like they were my own, I provided for them, I did everything for them.”
Nine-year-old Deontae, 8-year-old twins Neveah and Heaven, 4-year-old Jabari and 2-year-old Loy’El Dunigan were all remembered for being bright young kids who smiled hard, loved food, and would do anything for their mom.
“Jabari, I know he’s in heaven asking God, ‘What’s in the refrigerator,” said Sheila Dunigan, Sabrina’s aunt. “We loved those kids and we’re going to miss them.”
At this time, East St. Louis fire officials have not released any information on what caused the fire Friday morning, and the family tells News 4 they are not commenting on the investigation. Loved ones do say it has been frustrating to hear people criticize Sabrina for not being home when the fire started. Barton says the children were not unattended because their other grandparents were also in the building at the time.
“We don’t care what people say. We don’t care what people think. And we don’t care how people feel. It’s about what we feel right here within ourselves that matters to us,” said Barton.
For this family, the healing has only just started. However, they are grateful the East St. Louis community has rallied behind them and these children.
“Thank you for everybody around America that is straight up reaching out to us. They showed us so much love last night. We have the funeral paid in full.”
Barton says she was especially moved when so many people showed up for the vigil the previous night, which she says she wishes she could have attended.
“Out of all the bad things that is going on around here, everybody showed up with so much compassion and stuff like that, and that was beautiful to me,” said Barton.
There is a GoFundMe set up to help the family and Sabrina with additional expenses.
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