Several hundred mourners paid their respects to three young children who died in a house fire in Minneapolis two weeks ago.
A funeral service was held Saturday at Elim Lutheran Church in Robbinsdale for Latorious Thomas, 6, Latoria Thomas, 5 and Latorianna Thomas, 23 months, KSTP reports.
Several local dignitaries were present, including U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, the station notes.
Fire officials believe the blaze started near the oven just before midnight the night of Oct. 3, the fire department’s report says. The oven door was found open, and the childrens’ mother told investigators she was using it for heat because the furnace hadn't been turned on.
Those who spoke at the service urged people to be compassionate toward the children's parents, particularly their mother Taneisha Stewart. Investigators are looking into whether Stewart was home at the time of the fire as she claims.
"None of you will carry the burden that she will carry for the rest of her life," said community activist Spike Lee, according to MPR News. "Have more understanding. Have more caring. Have more love. ... she's still part of this human family and she's still part of this North side."
Several Minneapolis firefighters – some of whom had responded to the call – were in attendance and recognized for their bravery, KARE 11 reports.
The Stewart Family Memorial Fund has been set up for the family through Wells Fargo banks.
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