Grandfather of West Chester fire victims shouldering family through grief

Four young children were hurt in the fire; two of them have died.
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 9:32 PM EDT
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WEST CHESTER, Ohio (WXIX) - A local grandfather faces the unthinkable task of planning the burials for two of his grandchildren after they died in a fire earlier this week.

Four siblings were injured in the fire in West Chester last Saturday. It broke out on Aster Park Drive. There were no adults in the apartment, though a neighbor has said the mother was just outside.

Firefighters rescued the children, but they suffered severe smoke inhalation. The kids were in a different room from where the fire started, authorities say.

Alaiya Encarnacion, 2, and Bryson Brooks, 4, died Tuesday at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, according to the coroner’s office.

The oldest child, a 6-year-old, is out of the hospital. A 9-month old continues to recover there.

“Paramedics and firefighters did everything they could do to give these children a fighting chance,” West Chester Fire Chief Rick Prinz said Wednesday.

Dadrickrica Ellison, the children’s grandfather, says he’s numb. He describes Bryson and Alaiya as a team.

“Bryson did all the thinking. Alaiya was, like, the soft spoken of the crowd, but the understanding of the crowd,” he said. “She had her two little brothers.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, according to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

“It’s one of those freak accident things, like, it just happened too fast,” Ellison said. “It just happened too fast.”

Ellison says he’s trying to be strong for his daughter, the children’s mother.

“I’m the male figure in my family,” he said. “If I break, the family could break or collapse. Someone has to be the strength.”

He adds she’s doing the best she can.

“She trembles when she speaks,” he said. “She really... This is the first time I’ve ever seen my daughter not eat.”

Ellison says the family lost everything in the fire, prompting him to create an online fundraiser for medical and funeral expenses.

“She just moved back to the city, establishing her life, getting her life back on track,” he said. “This was out of nowhere.”

There has been a GoFundMe created to help the surviving children. Search “children lost in fire” on the GoFundMe website to donate.

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