GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Homberto Giron and Febe Santos’ four children lost nearly everything within one week.
The kids, ages eight to 14, first lost their mother and their home when a fire tore through the house on Kennesaw Lane in Buford. Days later, their father died of COVID-19. The family laid the couple to rest on Sunday.
"They were amazing human beings, amazing family," said Joel Banos, their cousin.
Joel and his wife Lindsay took in the four children at their home in Marietta.
"They are putting on a brave face and just being as courageous as they can be," said Lindsay Banos. "It’s been a really long, heart-breaking couple days you know, for the kids and having to bury both parents."
The whole family had COVID-19, but Giron, the father, had such trouble breathing that he had to go the hospital.
"I went over, took him to the hospital and since I took him, he never came out," Banos said.
As he was in the hospital, Santos, the mother, was recovering at home when the house caught fire and killed her.
"She may have gone down [to the basement] to see what was happening and just couldn’t escape, because she was so weak," he said.
As the flames ripped through the building, Gwinnett Fire & Emergency Services said it had to halt rescue efforts because the floor had become unstable. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.
Meanwhile, as the pandemic rages on, Lindsay Banos said the kids have a message they want to send to everyone.
"They want to express the importance of, we are still in this pandemic," she said. "Get your vaccines. Wear your mask. Social distance. I understand that we are all tired of this, but we’re not through it yet. We as a community can get through it if we all do what we need to do and be responsible to ourselves and to each other."
As of Monday afternoon, nearly $70,000 was raised on a GoFundMe page set up for the kids. Including their own kids, the Banos now have eight kids in the house. They said they are thankful for an outpour of support from the Budford community and their own in Cobb County.
While the kids both recovered from COVID-19 and escaped the fire without getting hurt, but Lindsay said the emotional scars will be there for a while.
"Continue to wrap these kids in prayer, pray for them," she said. "This will be a long process. It will not end in a day or two."
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