Tim Ferguson’s daughter Amajhay would have turned ten years-old yesterday. Yet while her birthday party was scheduled for today, her family held her funeral instead.
“It’s kind of unreal,” Ferguson said. “You just don’t want to believe it.”
On July 24, around 6:30 a.m., a kitchen fire broke out inside Ferguson’s home on East 15th Street in Chester.
“My oldest daughter was yelling to me, ‘daddy, daddy, there’s smoke!’” he said.
As the flames spread throughout the house, Ferguson managed to lower his 4-year-old son, 5-year-old nephew, and his wife, Tyisha, to safety. Once he escaped however, he realized to his horror that Amajhay, along with his 6-year-old niece Bella McKnight and his 4-year-old nephew Moses McKnight, were still inside. Ferguson tried to save them but the heavy, black smoke prevented him from going back inside.
“My neighbor just grabbed me and was like, ‘you can’t go back in there!’” he said.
Ferguson’s only hope at that point was that firefighters could find the three children.
“I asked him what the chances were that they were still alive,” Ferguson said. “He just said they didn’t make it.”
Amajhay and Bella both died in the fire. Moses spent two days in critical condition at a burn center before he succumbed to his injuries on Friday.
Officials ruled the fire an accident and say it was the result of children playing with the stove. Ferguson says he wants his tragic loss to serve as a lesson for other parents to have an escape plan and talk with their children about the dangers of playing with fire.
"We didn't have a plan," he said. "We had smoke detectors all over the house and a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. But we didn't have a plan."
Amajhay’s funeral service took place today at 11 a.m. at Christ Community Baptist Church in Philadelphia. The family has not yet revealed funeral plans for her cousins.
The Ferguson family lost everything in the fire. They established a fund at TD Bank called “The Amajhay Ferguson Fund” which will help cover funeral expenses as well as replace clothing and household goods. Donations are also being accepted through FundRazr, an online fundraising program that can be found here.