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House Fire Kills 5: Father Speaks
A father who lost all of his children in a house fire the day after Christmas is sharing his story. The fire happened early Wednesday morning near May and Wilshire in Northwest Oklahoma City. Investigators say a space heater sparked the fire. Five people died inside the home. Two people in the house survived the fire, but one person remains in the hospital. We spoke with the father of the four children that died and he hopes his message helps prevent similar tragedies.
The father of the four children was not at the house when the fire happened, but there was one man there who the father is now calling a hero.
"We said goodnight to them on Christmas and we left here about 7:30," said Matthew Leon.
Last Tuesday when Matthew Leon dropped off his four children at his ex-wife's house, he never thought it would be the last time he would see them.
"I feel like someone ripped my heart out of my chest and my whole world had just fallen apart," said Matthew.
Matthew's world started to crumble when his mother got a frantic call early Wednesday morning.
"I got up and ran to Matt and told him Jeanine's house is on fire, you've got to get up there now," said Franki Leon.
Once at the house, a detective told Matthew the devastating news. All of Matthew's children had died.
"Everyone of them," said Matthew. "All four of them."
Investigators say a space heater sparked the flames and the family did not have a working smoke alarm to alert them.
"If there might have been a smoke detector that worked in there," said Jessica Peterson, the mother of the youngest victim.
"They might have got out," said Matthew, finishing Jessica's sentence.
Matthew says his ex-wife's fiance, Brian Poletto tried to save the family from an upstairs bedroom.
"This is the ladder Brian stood on," said Matthew, while pointing to the ladder. "The fire was so hot, it melted the side of it."
But Jeanine Bonnet and the four kids, Samantha, Natalie, Matthew and Kara were already dead.
"From what we understand, they were already gone before the fire got to them from the smoke," said Franki. "I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful they didn't suffer."
Brian is still in the hospital with burns over more than 30% of his body.
"He might lose his hand," said Matthew. "He's burnt real bad."
Now as this family tries to cope with the biggest loss they've ever faced, they have one message for other families.
"Check your smoke detector in your house and make sure they work, and make sure your space heaters are far away from everything," said Matthew.
A service will be held for the victims Saturday afternoon at 2:00 at the Summit Church in Newcastle. The family set up a fund to help them pay for the costs of the burials. If you'd like to help, you can make a donation to the Matthew Leon Children's Memorial Fund at any Bank of Oklahoma branch.
MARISA MENDELSON, FOX 25 NEWS
Posted: Monday, December 31 2012, 09:55 PM CST
IN OKLAHOMA NEWS
Fallin signs bill to spend $45M on tornado relief
May 24, 2013 19:07 GMT
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Gov. Mary Fallin has signed a bill that will allow the state to access $45 million from the state's Rainy Day Fund to help communities recover from tornado damage.
Fallin on Friday signed a bill that the House and Senate passed unanimously in the wake of the deadly tornado that raked across the state on Monday, killing 24 people and injuring hundreds more.
It allows the state to use the money to match federal disaster funds and for other "disaster-related assistance."
The state's Rainy Day Fund, a constitutional reserve fund, currently has a balance of about $577 million. Up to 25 percent of the money can be accessed to pay for emergency-related expenses. The rest is reserved for when the state experiences budget shortfalls.
Senate Bill 249: http://bit.ly/10YnKm1
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