Fire victims' school copes with devastating loss
As investigators try to pinpoint the cause of a fire that claimed the lives of an entire Indianapolis family, classmates of the four children who died in the fire are dealing with a huge loss.
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's hard to imagine how difficult this has been not only for the relatives of the Guerra family - the six who died in the weekend fire on Olney St. - but the school family. Four of the victims were in grades 1,3,5 and 7 at the Lighthouse Charter School. That means half of the 500 students likely had some dealing with the victims.
The principal of the school was going to talk with Eyewitness News, then said he needed to really focus on the students. He's expected to release a statement later.
School started as usual with students getting off the buses. The principal said they would have breakfast in their rooms instead of the cafeteria. They have grief counselors available. The principal said some students would make cards to help deal with their grief.
It's been a tough weekend, and we caught up with a friend of one of the victims who talked to us about coping with this tragedy.
"We got along really good. She was probably my third friend there. It's just hard losing someone you like so much," said Kara Evans.
Even firefighters are getting counseling. As for the investigation, it's tough to get an answer quickly because there were no survivors.
Authorities don't believe foul play was involved.
Fire Department spokeswoman Capt. Rita Reith says autopsies are being performed on all six, but it will be several weeks before toxicology results are confirmed for exact causes of death.
Reith says it is the largest single loss of life for a family because of a fire in the department's history.