Miami (CBSMiami) – A northwest Miami-Dade mother and her two children died Wednesday morning after a fire erupted in their home.
The fire started just after midnight in the third floor unit of Katrena Williams, 42, at the Country Lane Condominiums at 17000 NW 67th Avenue.
Williams’ neighbors used fire extinguishers to try to put the fire out before firefighters arrived. People from the outside were breaking out the windows to get to the fire.
“I didn’t do enough,” said neighbor Ray Christie who was unable to enter the apartment. He was one of the neighbors who was trying to get in until authorities told them to get back.
“Turned out the fire extinguishers were way too small, so we started busting the ones on the second floor and we all ran up to the third and when we got up there, I mean, it didn’t seem like anybody was in the house,” said neighbor Dylan Oliver who said it wasn’t until police and firefighters arrived they realized there were people inside.
“We just heard a few people screaming and they pulled a child out, maybe a 2-year old, 3-year old baby, and then, I mean I came downstairs after that because I really didn’t want to see too much but it was just, they brought down the second child afterwards and the mother afterwards and they were all unconscious,” said Oliver.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said Williams and her two children, 3-year old Vincent and 12-year old Makayla, were found in a bedroom suffering from smoke inhalation. They were taken to the hospital where they died.
Investigators believe the victims died from smoke inhalation but are still waiting on the Medical Examiner’s report.
“It was just the worst thing I’ve seen in my life,” said Oliver.
Neighbors told CBS4 that the children’s father works at night and was not home.
Residents said their hearts are with the husband and father who has now lost it all.
“You know, it was just heartbreaking to see. Just to see them pull the family out of the house. I feel very bad for the husband and father,” said Oliver.
“I can say he loved his family and his daughter. Every time he went somewhere, his daughter was with him and he just had a little boy a few years ago, so it’s not gonna be easy on him. It’s very sad, very, very sad,” said resident Herman Williams.
Katrena Williams worked as a Bus Stock Clerk for Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) for 17 years. Her husband Vincent Williams Senior has been working with MDT for 15 years.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez released a statement Wednesday, May 21st saying, “Today I join the Miami-Dade County family and the residents of our community to mourn the tragic death of Katrena Williams, her daughter Makayla, and son Vincent Jr.,” said Mayor Gimenez. “Katrena was a member of our Miami-Dade Transit Department where she worked as a clerk. Her husband, Vincent Williams Sr. is also a part of our County family. Our thoughts and prayers are with Vincent Sr. and the entire Williams family.”
The fire, which started in the kitchen, appears to be accidental. Investigators believe the fire was started by a pot that was left on a hot stove.