Family of woman who died saving kids in Galveston house fire hopes for answers: 'So heartbreaking'

Daniela Hurtado Image
Friday, March 1, 2024
Woman's family reacts to officials ruling fiery death as a homicide
The family of Renita Hawthorne is asking for justice as her death was ruled a homicide after she died in a house fire in Galveston on Thursday.

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Galveston family says they are hoping for justice following the tragic death of a mother of six children in an overnight house fire on Thursday.

The fire marshal's office and police are looking into her death as an arson homicide.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Galveston fire that killed woman, injured 5, now investigated as homicide, police say

The victim's family says that her two daughters and her boyfriend were able to escape the blaze and are being treated for their injuries.

"I get a text...'Alright, Dad, I hope you slept well. I'll be by in a few minutes'," the victim's father, Timothy James, said.

On Friday morning, James didn't receive his usual morning message from his daughter Renita Hawthorne. She died in a fire officials said was started intentionally.

"I was just devastated," James said when he heard news of the fire.

A memorial now sits outside the front lawn of Hawthorne's now charred home.

"So heartbreaking. We would never have expected anything like this," Sharonda Hawthorne, a family member, said.

Officials say the fire sparked around 1 a.m. on Thursday and grew as the four people in the home tried to get out.

"She gave her life for her children. She made sure the children got out of the house. She made sure everyone was out in safety and didn't make it out," Sharonda said.

The City of Galveston Fire Marshal says both home exits were blocked, and the family had to seek safety through a window.

Fire Marshal Chris Harrison says he can't understand how or where the fire was ignited as they investigate.

The family says Renita was bubbly and loving and didn't have enemies.

"You wouldn't catch her without a smile on her face," Sharonda said.

As the other victims recover, this family wants answers.

"I hope justice is done," James said.

A GoFundMe account was set up for Hawthorne's two daughters.

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