Community mourns loss of 6 children in housefire, now working to help survivors

Posted at 4:04 PM, Jan 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-13 22:03:28-05

Walking up Springwood Avenue in Northeast Baltimore, you see a disaster zone. A huge machine with a bucket picked up and moved rubble from a lot in between two homes.

Next door, the siding was gone, a few melted mangled pieces hung and moved in the wind. Mud and a steady stream of water poured down the gutter, as workers buzzed around the area making quick work of what was left of the Malone home.

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Just two days before, there was a three story white house, that was a home to a family of 11. Neighbors say nine children ages nine months to 11 years old played happily.

Ashlie Batten lived around the corner from the family for years, and said she loved visiting the children and would often bring them sweets.

She visited the mother, who survived the fire, in the hospital.

"She's so overwhelmed with everything and overwhelmed with grief because of the fact that she could not save them and she heard her kids she's so overwhelmed it's impossible," Batten said. 

Batten came back to the pile of rubble that was left of the home Friday morning, this time bringing a poster and balloons to share love for the family.
A block down the street, near the police car blocking the road, stood Debbie Sugarman. She is a kindergarten teacher at Hillcrest Elementary and taught 10-year-old Amelia four years ago.

"She was just the most delightful little girl, she was so sweet, when I would give her a treat, she would always say I need to share it with my sisters. She had an adorable little lisp, so it was more like I wanna sare it wit my sisters, it was just one of those endearing qualities that just made you want to hug her all the more," Sugarman said somberly.

She also knew Amelia's older sister, Bridget, who was 11 years old. Sugarman said the Malone family is beautiful, kind and loving.

"It'd be like god forbid to ever lose one of your  family, and now I realize your students are your family too," Sugram said.  She said she cried all evening Thursday, and tried to go in to work Friday, but couldn't do it. So she felt compelled to go to the home.

"The last thing I said to her was you are just the sweetest child, and she said to me in the most open honest non conceited way, I know, because I think she'd been told that so much because it was true," Sugarman said.

She's not the only one upset about the devastating loss.

Local businesses are stepping up to help. The Hub Sports Bar and Grill is collecting personal items, form toothbrushes to clothing for the survivors. They will be collecting donations through the weekend.

Diablo Doughnuts is selling $3 heart-shaped doughnuts, with all the proceeds going to the family. Owner Michael Roslan said his assistant went to high school with the mother, Katie, and they felt they needed to do this.

Diablo Doughnuts will be selling the special doughnuts from 7 a.m- 3p.m. Saturday and Sunday. So far they've raised more than $400.

There is also a Facebook Page and a GoFundMe page that is setting up a fundraiser for the family.

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