As Alma Thornton surveys the growing memorial in front of the Johnson family home in Tamina, she says she’s moved beyond words.
“It’s a lot of stuff. A lot of love. A lot of love. My God,” she said. “My heart goes out to April. I love her. God, Jesus knows I love her.”
Thornton, like so many others who visited, says she still can’t believe what happened in the house on Friday. An early morning fire destroyed the home where the Johnson family was sleeping, killing three children and sending four other family members to the hospital.
“It happens to the strongest ones,” Thornton said. “God gives the hardest, most difficult tasks to his strongest angels.”
Johnson family cousin Stephanie Davis says Bobby Johnson, a pastor at Thergood Memorial Church of God in Christ in Willis, and his family are relying on God right now.
“They are very strong in their faith,” Davis said. “They believe, with the support of the community and their church family, they know they will triumph over this tragedy.”
Davis said Johnson and his wife, Carrie, who went to the hospital, are out now. However, their son Jarvis and 10-year-old grandson Adrian are still being treated.
“It’s a joy to see Adrian smile and welcome everybody into his room,” Davis said. “We appreciate that. We appreciate that he has a very uplifted spirit and is doing well in the midst of his tragedy.”
A memorial and benefit for the Johnson family is planned for 7 p.m. Friday at the City Cathedral Church’s Woodlands campus.
A GoFundMe page set up to cover some of the family’s medical and funeral expenses topped $60,000 as of Monday afternoon.
The community can also make donations at the following locations:
Memorial Hermann The Woodlands
Hospital Scheduling Office
9250 Pinecroft Drive
The Woodlands, Texas 77380
Monday - Friday 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Houser Elementary School
27370 Oak Ridge School Road
Conroe, Texas 77385
Monday - Friday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
As the family starts its physical and emotional healing process, Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office investigators are trying to figure out what started the fire that caused those wounds.
“Any time you have a structure that’s this significantly burned, it adds to the complexity of trying to determine the cause of the fire,” said assistant fire marshal Kevin Bates.
On Monday, his team met with other agencies to combine notes and, hopefully, determine the cause soon.
“We’re still gathering information to try to put pieces together for our investigation,” he said.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas --
A house fire took the lives of three young children and critically injured several family members, Montgomery County fire officials confirm.
There were eight people in the home, located on Tamina Road, when it went up in flames before 4 a.m. Friday. Most of them were sleeping on the second floor.
Family members said homeowner Bobby Johnson broke out an upstairs window and got half of the victims out.
“It sounds like they risked it all. They risked everything. Just the same as the officer and the firefighters in this situation, to be as badly injured as they are in this condition,” Jones said.
The flames were too great for Jones to reach his three grandchildren still trapped in their bedroom on the other side of the second floor – the place where the fire started.
“It’s the worst thing a firefighter can face,” said Montgomery County Fire Marshal Jimmy Williams. “The kids are in there, you know the building’s collapsing, and you know he’s not going to be able to save them.”
As the fire raged, police officers from Shenandoah and Oak Ridge North arrived on the scene and tried to help family members rescue the children trapped inside.
They tried to climb the stairs to the second floor but were driven back by smoke and flames.
"One child got out, there were three others inside," one of the officers is heard saying on a bodycam.