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Suburban family loses home in fire, but cherishes four children who were saved

Suburban family loses home in fire, but cherishes four children who were saved

Joshua Lee and his friend Mario saved Lee’s four children from a burning house in a Chicago suburb. Natalie Bomke reports.

A suburban family is beginning the new year with nothing except for the clothing on their backs after a fire destroyed their home. But they are celebrating what was saved: four young children who were trapped inside.

“It’s like a nightmare that I don’t wish on nobody at all,” said father Joshua Lee. He says his children, ages four, three and a pair of one-year-old twins were inside the Thornton home last Tuesday. He stepped outside to hand his friend Mario a wrench and heard a loud noise.

“I heard a pop in the wall and I jumped up and said ‘Man, what is that?’

Within seconds the entire house was engulfed in flames.

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“Three of my kids was on the couch with smoke and fire, over their heads screaming saying ‘Help’. Mario ran in he grabbed two of my kids,” Lee said. The father then grabbed a third and they all ran for safety. In the scramble, one-year-old Chase was left behind.

“The police was like getting away from the house it might blow, and that’s when I heard Chase screaming in the back room,” said Lee. Without thinking, he darted back into the house, ran down a smoke-filled, pitch-black hallway, and grabbed his baby from his crib. He says the sound of his friend’s voice helped him find a way out.

The family didn’t have rental insurance and lost everything. When his fiance, the children’s mother, arrived home from the store, she was overcome with emotion and suffered a seizure. Lee says last year the family lost 36 relatives from COVID and other illnesses. Last week, he came close to losing what matters most to him.

“I was backwards, in the streets and stuff and my children saved my life. And so I would die for my kids without thinking twice…To be able to see my kids every day, it’s definitely a blessing. I won’t take it for granted,” Lee said.

The cause of the fire has not been determined. The family is staying with Lee’s brother. The Red Cross provided immediate financial assistance. Neighbors started a Go Fund Me page that can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/shulawn-tate-and-family

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