Fire deaths of six-member family stun neighbors, friends

Jeddy Lewis

Investigators are still searching for what caused the deadly fire that killed an entire Indianapolis family. They do not suspect foul play, but it could be some time before they determine the origin of the fire.

Forty-seven-year-old Lionel "Leo" Guerra, and his 33-year-old wife, Brandy Mae, died Saturday, as did their 11-year-old son, Esteban, and 8-year-old daughter, Blanquita. Fourteen-year-old Miranda and 6-year-old Fuentes died Sunday. It could be weeks before autopsy results are available.

As the investigation continues, a community is grieving a devastating loss.

"I had to stop and see for myself," said Jeddy Lewis as he stood in front of the small house on Olney Street, thinking about his aunt, uncle and four young cousins who died in a fire there Saturday morning.

"The house isn't much but it's a place to call home and that's what they called home," said Lewis.

Other relatives stopped, too. So did complete strangers like Ashley Johnson.

"I have children of my own. To have them never come home? It's sad," she said.

Fire investigators have no idea what caused the fire, just that there is no evidence of foul play.

"It's devastating. I couldn't believe it happened," said Robin Douglas, a family friend who'd been in the home several times.

"I'm sure that security door wasn't good," said Douglas.

Like many in this older industrial area, he says the Guerra family took extra precautions to protect themselves.

"Wen she went over to return a cat once, it took the mom five minutes to find the key," said Douglas. "that's the first thing I thought of. Imagine being in there and you can't find the key. Maybe that was part of the problem."

Lewis doesn't know what happened. He just knows his uncle, who had health issues, would have done anything to save his family.

"He made it through lung cancer. He was a fighter. To go like this is horrible...but they're together now," said Lewis.

A fund has been set up at Chase Bank. Those wishing to donate can do so to the "Guerra Charitable Final Arrangement Trust."