Sugar Land dad hopes to save lives after losing children in house fire during February 2021 freeze

Shelley Childers Image
Thursday, December 1, 2022
Dad aims to save lives after children died in fire during 2021 freeze
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A Sugar Land father is on a mission to spread fire safety awareness and tools after his kids died in a house fire during the 2021 Texas winter storm.

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) -- A Sugar Land father is on a mission to save lives after losing his own children in a house fire nearly two years ago.

"It's hard for me to talk about it a lot, you know? Going into details for sure," Nathan Nguyen said.

Nguyen's children -- 11-year-old Olivia, 8-year-old Edison, and 5-year-old Colette -- were bundled up inside their mother's Sugar Land home when the neighborhood lost power during the winter storm that took hold of Texas in February 2021.

Fire investigators said the family was keeping warm with the fireplace, but after using it at high heat for an extended period of time, the firebox system failed.

SEE ALSO: 'Why did this happen?': Father of 3 children killed in house fire shares memories and anguish

The children's mother woke up to the home engulfed in smoke and flames but it was too late. The three children and their grandmother, who were all asleep on the second story, died.

Now their father, who lived separately, is turning his pain into purpose.

"I'm doing something to save a life so another tragedy that has happened to them won't happen with anyone else," Nguyen said.

He built the OEC Nguyen Foundation, with a mission to spread fire safety awareness and tools.

"Our goal is to save just one life," he said.

SEE ALSO: 3 children and grandmother killed in Sugar Land house fire laid to rest

The foundation is raising funds to purchase second-story ladders to equip families with their own tools to escape a fire from the inside. They are also looking to purchase fire blankets for families to keep in their bedrooms.

"A blanket that you put over yourself so if there's a fire and you need to run through it, it protects you from getting singed, getting your clothes on fire, and that way you get through the fire with minimal harm," he said.

On Saturday, they'll be hosting their first big fundraiser, a fun run, to buy 500 ladders and 500 fire blankets.

"A lot of people neglect the thought of 'this could happen to me,' or 'this could happen to us,'" board member Andrew Pham said. "It's really important for us to help them be aware of what it would take for them to be able to escape a fire."

SEE ALSO: Grandma and 3 children die in Sugar Land house fire, officials say

The Sugar Land and Houston fire departments will be present at the family event to also share life-saving tips, like always sleeping with bedroom doors closed to slow the spread of smoke and flames into the room. And if you find yourself trapped on an upper-level floor, throw something out the window to alert firefighters where you are.

"It's something that you want to be prepared for. It's one of those disasters you don't want to have, but if you have the tools for it, you might be able to come out unscathed," Nguyen said.

The foundation is also raising money to help fund scholarships and programs at the children's longtime school St. Laurence Catholic School.

The OEC Nguyen Foundation Fun Run is taking place Saturday, Dec. 3, at Sugar Land Memorial Park.

For more information on the organization and fundraiser, visit its website.

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