Colethia Williams lost a lot in 15 minutes.
She was sleeping in her room just after midnight Saturday. Her four children were sharing a bed sleeping in another room at the house in the 1100 block of James Street off of Log Cabin Drive.
Williams said she was having difficulty breathing due to her sinus problems and decided to go to the 7 Store, a convenience market a few hundred yards from her house.
“I went to go get sinus medicine and I got a phone call when I was at the store saying my house was on fire,” Williams said Sunday morning, standing in front of the house with some of her neighbors and family members. “When I arrived back the whole house was on fire.
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“I was only gone 15 minutes,” she said.
She wanted to go back into the house but, “they wouldn’t let me go in. They just started bringing the kids out and they were trying to resuscitate them.”
Three of the children, Nykhiya, 10, Jamarrian, 9, and Daija, 7, died. Williams said the smoke killed them.
As emergency officials tried to resuscitate her children, Williams said she talked to her babies. “I was right there yelling ‘come on, come on, I know you hear me,’ ” she said.
“The only person I seen was alert was my 3-year-old, J’lon ... the rest of them, they never came alert,” she said.
J’lon remained in an Augusta hospital late Sunday where he was being treated for smoke inhalation, Williams said.
Macon police said the cause of the fire is unknown and it’s being investigated.
‘They were loving kids’
“I’m just praying and asking for strength,” Vicki Pitts, the children’s grandmother said as she stood in her front yard on Ann Street on Sunday afternoon. “They were loving kids. Respectful kids. I know one day I’ll be resurrected with my grandkids. God just loaned them to us ... you tussle with the memories and knowing you won’t see them walking in the door with their arms open for a hug.”
A large smashed-in box was leaning against a large pine tree in the children’s front yard early Sunday. It was once used to hold pots and pans, but Jamarrian had other plans for it.
“He played with that box for 30 minutes straight yesterday,” said next door neighbor Regina Rhynes pointing to the box with pictures of cookware on it. “He was playing baseball with it. He’d throw it up in the air and hit it with a stick,” she said with a chuckle as tears rolled down her cheeks.
“I always had to watch him. I’d let him play until he’d get to close to cars and I’d say ‘OK, back up,’ ” Rhynes said.
Nykhiya was a second set of helpful hands for her mother.
“She was so sweet and would do anything anybody asked her to do,” said Williams.
Daija liked sweets.
“She was my little beggar,” Williams said. “She was always asking for candy, a dollar.”
Williams sister, Dione Hudson, stopped by the house around 10 p.m. Saturday. She said she was congratulating the kids on making good grades.
“Every time they do good in school, we always go out to dinner, Chuck E. Cheese’s, the movies,” said Hudson.
The children attended Joseph B. Riley Elementary School.
Hudson’s last conversation with Nykhiya, Jamarrian, and Daija were the children asking her if they could stay the night at her house.
“I said no because I had to work in the morning,” she said.
To contact writer Harold Goodridge, call 744-4382.