Community supporting family of fire victims
Updated On: Jun 19 2014 06:40:00 PM EDT
Two days after a fire claimed the lives of three children and their grandmother, the Oceanway community is coming together to support the family.
The blaze broke out in their mobile home on Palmetto Road on Tuesday night. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but News4Jax learned Thursday there was a smoke alarm in the home. Investigators don't think the fire was set intentionally, nor do they believe it was electrical.
Jennifer and Richard Fowler, the children's parents, say their lives have been turned upside down. They can't stop crying, they can't eat and they can't sleep. But they're trying to remain steady for their 6-year-old daughter, Hattie Fowler, who survived the fire.
"We are taking it day by day," Jennifer said. "We have to be strong for our daughter. I try not to let her see me breakdown, and when I go to break down I go to the bathroom or into the bedroom because I don't want her to see mommy like this."
"I don't want anybody else to have a tragedy like we had," Richard said. "I hope they watch their kids a lot better and take care of their house."
Many people in the tight-knit community are concerned about the family and are coming together to show them love. Teddy bears and signs at the home are still there, symbols of their support.
Funeral expenses donation account at EverBank: 0010021914
Routing No. 063092110
While it may look like it, it's not business as usual at Sei Bella Salon. The women there are torn apart by the deadly fire just blocks away.
"It hits the community really hard to see obviously children and people that you know to lose something like that," said Kember Turknett, who works at the salon.
But they're supporting the family left behind, organizing a fundraiser car wash and hair cut-a-thon all day Friday starting at 9 a.m. at Sei Bella Salon, located at 387 New Berlin Road.
"I felt the need. Let's make it big, let's do something awesome for this family and get the community involved," said Sarah Dixon, who works at the salon.
The fundraiser will bring much needed things for the children's parents and Hattie.
"They can bring whatever. They can bring money if you're not in the financial situation where you can give money," Dixon said. "You can bring food, toys, clothing."
Oceanway has come out huge to help, bringing supplies and most importantly love.
But the family needs so much more. They're planning to bury four people, and two anonymous News4Jax viewers have stepped forward, offering to donate their spaces in a mausoleum if the family wants them.
"We felt as Christians that the Lord put it on our hearts that this is what you are going to do," one of the donors said. "This is what you are to do. You are to help this family."
Nothing will bring back the four they lost -- Rachel, Janet and Richard Fowler and Sheila Swearingen -- but it's assistance that the surviving family needs in the worst time of their lives.
"We want this family to feel the love and the support, not only from our side of town but from Jacksonville," Dixon said. "Because I think it has hit home not just for our community but for everyone that has a child."
The parents of the victims say they're so grateful for the help. They're trying to get everything together right now and bury their family.
"The community has been real great, and we are very thankful for that -- very, very, very," Jennifer Fowler.
The family has not officially made funeral plans yet. They said they want it to be as soon as possible and they are meeting with funeral homes Friday.
The family said those who want to help them in any way are welcome to drop by the grandfather's house at 525 New Berlin Road. Their clothing needs are:
- Size 5/6 shirts, size 6 in kids shirts
- Dress size 6x
- Shoe size 13 kids
- Likes pink clothes, Disney stuff, the movie Frozen and earrings
- Size 9 or 10 shorts
- Large shirts
- Size 5.5 shoes
- Size 34 waist pants
- Large shirts
- Size 10 shoes
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