A couple recovering from a fire that saw their Georgia home destroyed was struck by devastating tragedy this week when a second blaze in as many years claimed not only their house, but two of their young children, authorities said.
Michael Reeves and Chassity Carter had no choice but to rebuild when a fire that broke out in May left their mobile home inhabitable, ultimately parking a camper trailer on the same Brunswick lot for the family of five to live in.
But another fire broke out inside that home Wednesday, engulfing the structure within the three minutes it took emergency responders to arrive on the scene, officials said.
The couple’s 3-year-old son, Blayden Wade Reeves, was killed in the blaze, while their 4-month-old daughter Tallie Ann Carter, succumbed to her injuries after being rushed to the hospital, police said.
Carter and their 2-year-old son, Brighton Michael Reeves, were hospitalized in critical condition, while Reeves was released from the hospital with minor injuries, cops said.
Investigators on Thursday determined the fire likely started in the kitchen of the tight space.
“There was a pot of noodles left on a hot plate on a countertop that was the cause of the fire,” Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering told reporters.
He called the determination preliminary and said that the investigation is still underway.
No foul play is suspected, Doering said, adding that the previous fire was deemed "suspicious," but did not elaborate on the classification.
Neighbors on Wednesday reported hearing continuous explosions after the fire started, authorities said.
Glynn County Fire Chief Randy Jordan said the flames could have detonated something inside the camper.
“That could be easily aerosol cans that make a loud noise and increase the fireball,” he said.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the State Fire Marshal's Office is assisting the Glynn County Fire Department and Police Department with the investigation.
Loved ones were devastated by the loss of the toddler and infant, offering their condolences and prayers to the children’s young parents, who neighbors said had fallen on hard times.
“They have been struggling and struggling,” neighbor Danny O’Neal told WTOC-TV.
He said he could hear the couple outside wailing, telling the television station: “I heard the worst screams you could ever hear between him and her, about their children being inside.”
A woman who identified herself as Reeves’ former foster mother created a GoFundMe page to offset funeral and hospital expenses, writing: “Pretty much everything they own was lost in the fire - their home, clothes, furniture, etc. They will need to completely start over.
"This is the hardest thing they have ever had to go through,” she wrote on the page, which as of Friday had raised $680 if its $15,000 goal. “This family needs all the help and prayers they can get."