Family of baby girl killed in fire speaks out

February 25, 2011 4:05:57 PM PST
Several families are left heartbroken right now, dealing with a pain that no parent wants to even think about. The family of 19-month-old Elizabeth Kajoh are remembering a life taken too soon as they wait for answers. This is one of those stories where you find it difficult to shield yourself from the emotion of what's occurred. Three children are dead, four injured and the parents of one of the deceased is asking why.

When Betty Ukera picked up the phone at work Thursday, she says she heard a panicked voice on the line.

"She just said, 'Get here quickly. My babies, my babies, they're dying. There was smoke everywhere, it was dark everywhere, I couldn't see. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to,'" Ukera said.

Ukera's 19-month-old daughter, Elizabeth, was inside the home. When she arrived, it was chaos. She tells us she couldn't figure out what happened to her.

"It felt like eternity. I don't know," said Ukera.

She rushed to one hospital, then another, frantically looking for Elizabeth. Finally at Memorial Hermann Southwest, she got the news she feared.

"They brought the clothes and sure enough, it was her clothes. Then I asked them, 'Is she alive?' And they said, 'Sorry, ma'am. We did all we could,'" said Ukera. "And I said, 'Is she alive?' and they said, 'No,' and everything changed."

Elizabeth's parents want to know what happened there Thursday.

"Was it preventable? When did it happen? We don't know," said Emmanuel Kajoh, Elizabeth's father.

"Did she do her best? Did she see smoke, get terrified and run for her life?" said Ukera.

They wonder how the fire started, if it was accidental and why no one got the children out sooner.

Those parents though say even if this tragedy was preventable, they say they are not angry. That wouldn't bring their little girl back.

"Anger is not what I feel right now -- Anguish. I feel a lot of pain," Ukera said.

Two other children died in the fire, but only one has been identified by authorities -- 20-month-old Kendall Stradford of Katy.

There are four young survivors recovering from injuries. Two are in critical condition at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Galveston with serious burns. Two more patients are being treated at Childrens Memorial Hermann Hospital where one is in critical condition and the other in good condition.

The fire department says the cause of the fire is still under investigation.