ORLANDO, Fla. - An Orlando family is trying to heal and recover after a house fire Thursday night left a 9-year-old girl and the woman who considers herself to be her grandmother dead.
The grandmother died on Saturday after suffering severe burns while trying to save the child.
The fire happened shortly before 6 a.m. Sunday at the family's home on Lescot Lane.
Kevin Howard said his mother, Ingrid Howard, and 9-year-old Siyah Johnson were inside the home when the fire ignited. He said his mother suffered burns to 30 percent of her body.
"During the fire, the neighbor had to kick down the door and as he kicked the door down, all he heard was my mom screaming Siyah's name, looking for her and she was turning around to go back into the fire," Kevin Howard said.
He said that heroic act exemplified his mother's bravery and kindness. Siyah was the daughter of Kevin Howard's ex-girlfriend and Ingrid Howard gained custody of her and her brother, Sion, 10 years ago and raised them.
Ingrid Howard made caring for the children her top priority, which she did so they wouldn't be put into separate homes.
"Day in, day out, her life revolved around those kids and I'm just sad. The disaster, the devastation, the tragedy -- it's hard, but we have to stay strong for her," Kevin Howard said.
Sion was able to make it out of the home and alert a neighbor to the fire. Siyah did not survive.
Kevin Howard said his mother had been at Orlando Regional Medical Center recovering from third-degree burns on her torso and up her neck.
Family members have to face the daunting task of planning funerals.
"Siyah's funeral we are trying to make the best as we can ... and that's all we can do is try to move forward and stay positive, stay united as a family because I know that's what my mom wanted," Kevin Howard said.
He said Siyah acted like a little princess. He said the girl was rough around the edges, but overall she was a good girl with a good heart.
"She was bright, she was rough around the edges, she was a sweetheart, she was a princess," Kevin Howard said. "She would give you joy, she would give you a rough time if she didn't get her way, but all in all, she was a kid, a sweetheart."
While the family recovers from the shock of the tragedy, they're reminding the community to make sure they have working smoke detectors and to teach children fire safety.
"If it will bring light, if it will bring awareness, that is what I'm here for, it's serious it can happen to you. It can happen to anybody," Kevin Howard said.
The family is also raising money for Siyah's funeral and Ingrid Howard's medical expenses through GoFundMe.
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