WINONA, Texas (KETK) – The ongoing investigation on the house fire that killed an East Texas mother and her three children, ages five, two, and one, continues. The Smith County Fire Marshall, Jay Brooks confirmed Tuesday the name of the mother as 24 year old, Brittany Stewart.
KETK was outside the home in Winona on Tuesday where the home now sits in ruins. Several neighbors walked nearby the home in shock at the sight, and some decided to share some of their emotional memories with us.
Gary Kirk, a neighbor who knew the family, choked up as he remembered Brittany’s children playing outside. While recounting his memories, overcome with emotion, he could barely speak. “It’s sad, I heard some sirening in my house yesterday, and I told my little brother, ‘there’s sirens, man. I pray for the babies’…” said Kirk. His friend was by his side to comfort him.
Their neighbor’s home is now left in ruins. All that’s left is an outlined structure, a collapsed roof, and ashes covering almost everything else. Rusted toys were scattered throughout the front lawn, an eerie reminder of the tragic loss.
“They’re good people, you know, never do anything wrong,” said Kirk.
The building is surrounded by caution tape, meant to keep strangers away as investigators get to the bottom of what happened.
“I ask for your patience because this is a significant event, we want to make sure that we are doing justice for this family, so we want to make sure this particular investigation definitely takes some time….“I can tell you that we believe that the electricity was out in the area. We also believe that a wood-burning stove had been at use some point prior to the fire, and we have reason to believe it started near the center of the home.”Jay Brooks, Smith County Fire Marshal
According to the Smith County Fire Marshal, Jay Brooks, no one nearby heard the beeping sound of the smoke alarm. He then followed with urgency and stressed the importance of having one installed.
“We’re gonna do everything in our power to make sure there are working smoke detectors in every house of Smith County,” said Brooks.