Local firefighters say five departments worked more than seven hours Jan. 16 to extinguish the morning fire that killed two boys, 6-year-old Brenden and 3-year-old Trizton.
On Tuesday, Tommy Amos pointed to a plastic packing box in the corner of the living room of his friend’s home. The box contained most of the belongings that could be salvaged from their house — including two baby books, his own and Trizton’s.
They also recovered some of the boys’ clothes, which were in a dresser drenched by water from fire hoses, Bridget Amos said.
She said a friend will sew the clothing into a quilt, which the family plans to display when they get into their own home again.
“We don’t want to put this behind us,” Tommy Amos said. “We want people to know that we were a family and we’re still a family.”
The couple’s two surviving children, 16-year-old Destiney and 14-year-old Justin, are his from previous relationships; Brenden was hers from a previous relationship and Trizton was their child together.
Their two youngest boys were close, their mother said.
“They were always beside each other,” she said, on the verge of tears. “They were always playing Mario.”
The Alabama Fire Marshal’s Office on Wednesday said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
“We’ve found evidence of overloaded circuitry in the home, but can’t definitively rule that as a cause,” said Steve Holmes, public information officer for the Fire Marshal’s Office. “There’s also other physical evidence and witness accounts still being analyzed.”
The two boys were among 19 fire deaths in Alabama as of Wednesday, he said.
“January 2014 is already our deadliest January on record,” Holmes said.
The bitter cold this month may be a factor, as home heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths and property damage, he said.
As the Amos family deals with the loss, the community is suffering, too. At Fruithurst Elementary School, where Brenden attended school, the district officials provided counseling for the students, teachers and administrators.
Superintendent Claire Dryden said a crisis-counseling team went to the school early Jan. 16, the day of the fire. The team spoke to teachers, advising how to address the subject with students, Dryden wrote in an email Friday. School administrators also sent students home with sealed notes for their parents and caregivers explaining about the fire and the deaths.
“Counselors were in both the first-grade classes and did a whole group counseling session this morning, reassuring them that they were safe and to focus on the good memories of their friend,” Dryden said.
The counselors will continue to work at the school as long as necessary, said Lesa Jackson, who oversees counseling for the school system.
Area residents came together in a prayer vigil Sunday night and are preparing a benefit for the family scheduled for Feb. 1, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fruithurst Baptist Church. The multi-denominational fundraiser will include food, music and a cake auction, said Beth Williams, who is helping organize the event.
A memorial service for the boys is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Dryden Funeral Home Chapel on Almon Street in Heflin.
Brenden’s and Trizton’s family said they know how many people are grieving along with them. They have chosen solitude for the last week, but the Amoses say they appreciate the support that’s been given to them.
“The whole community, and outside the community,” said Tommy, “Everybody’s pouring in prayers and it helps. We need all the support we can get.”
Right now, they said, it’s hard to get through the days without their boys.
“We never went anywhere by ourselves,” Bridget Amos said. “We didn’t even have a honeymoon. We spent it with the kids.”
Sitting on the couch in the living room of the borrowed home, Bridget said she is homesick, but not for the old house.
“Even if I was there, I think I would still feel homesick,” she said. “I don’t have my boys and they made our home.”
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.