The consequences of the widespread power outages in Texas have been beyond devastating to the state who has endured unrelenting winter weather made worse by an inferior infrastructure. Power and water outages have raged across the state last week as a result of an unusual deep freeze that has pushed many into survival mode.
Sadly, while Texas is beginning to receive relief, the Nguyen family has been faced with the unimaginable.
Jackie Pham Nguyen is the only survivor of a house fire that killed her three children and grandmother.
Nguyen was with her three children in their home in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, Texas when the power went out at her mother Loan Le’s house. That Monday, Nguyen welcomed her mother into her home, located just five miles away, and where she and her children Olivia, 11, Edison, 8, and Colette, 5, still had power.
“We thought we were really lucky because we still had power until the early evening,” Nguyen said in an interview with CNN. After losing power just a few hours later, Nguyen says she and her family members settled down, lit their fireplace, and played board and card games. When 9:30 p.m. rolled around, everyone headed to sleep.
“Tucked my kids into bed and really the next thing I know I’m in the hospital,” Nguyen told CNN. “A few hours later the fireman and police officer came and said that no one else made it.”
Nguyen says she has little recollection of what happened but remembers being unable to get upstairs to her children’s bedrooms.
Nguyen’s room, which was located on her first floor where her bedroom is and yelled for her kids. “I was just standing there screaming and screaming and screaming their names hoping they would come out of their rooms and basically jump over so that we could get out,” she explained. “I just remember feeling like it was so dark and I can still kind of hear everything crackling around me.”
Coco, Edison and Olivia Nguyen all died in the fire.
Nguyen said she doesn’t remember much more of what happened but Doug Adolph, a spokesperson for the city of Sugar Land, told CNN that she “had to be physically restrained from running back into the house.”
According to Adolph, Nguyen’s neighborhood was without power for at least eight hours. The fire department arrived around 2 a.m. Tuesday and it took nearly an hour to get the fire fully under control.
“The family had posted on social media that they were attempting to stay warm by using a fireplace inside the home,” Adolph said, adding that the cause of the fire has not yet been determined and may never be. “We can’t say for sure that was the cause of the fire. We just don’t know yet,” he explained. “It’s possible that the investigation may never identify an exact cause.”
Nguyen suffered burns on her hands, but explained in an interview that the loss of her children and her mother is devastating
“My heart is broken,” she explained to CNN. “I’m never gonna be the same… I’m in this crisis tactical mode now and I’m just really focused on all these final arrangements because this is the last sort of thing I’m going to do for my kids.”
Speaking about her children, Nguyen describes them as having big personalities and hearts.
“My kids were such phenomenal, amazing, little badass humans,” she said of her children. “Colette is just a little firecracker and she has so much charisma… she also, as a 5-year-old, had that level of confidence. She was never afraid, totally unapologetic, not intimidated.”
“Obviously I mourn losing them,” Nguyen told CNN. “But I feel like it’s honestly a tragic loss for the world that these kids don’t get to like live up to their potential and contribute to society in the way that they could have.”
A GoFundMe page for the family has already brought in $342,387 in donations. Nguyen says she hopes to use the money to build an organization or foundation.
“I want to do something lasting for them,” Nguyen said. “I really want to be thoughtful about it because I want it to be lasting and meaningful. … I owe it to everybody’s support and their intentions to not be hasty about how those resources are used.”
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