The fire that killed a McIntyre mother, two of her sons and injured a third boy Monday is prompting an outpouring of support from the community.
People gathered Monday night at Brundage Mount Baptist Church to pray for the family of 36-year-old La’Thelma Ferguson Beck and her sons, Damon Beck Jr., 12, and Donavan Beck, 10.
Family, friends, community members and school representatives attended the 6 p.m. vigil, church member Channie Scott said.
“You can tell it weighed on people because it was very solemn,” Scott said. “Everyone is leaning on one another.”
Word of the fatal fire spread quickly through the close-knit community. The boys’ teachers were up all night and in shock, said Bonnie Green, Wilkinson County Primary School principal, who knew Damon and Donavan and was getting ready for their younger brother this school year.
“They were such sweet boys,” Green said. “They were just good kids, and their mom is a hero in our eyes.”
Little was known late Tuesday about the condition of the youngest son.
The boys’ two sisters were staying with relatives the night of the fire.
Green said the whole school system will be watching out for the children.
Saturday’s funeral service will be at 11 a.m. at “The Palace,” the basketball gymnasium at Wilkinson County High School off Ga. 57.
“We’re going to get through this and really help this family,” Green said.
Counselors will be on hand to talk to students, if necessary, she said.
The family’s church also set up a benefit fund at Wilkinson County Bank in Irwinton.
“When you’re a parent, you think about how you would feel and it’s just really sad,” said Rickey Spivey, the bank president. “I think it’s just touched every family in this community.”
Donations to the La’Thelma Ferguson Beck Fund can be mailed to P.O. Box 545, Irwinton, Ga., 31042.
“I don’t think you can hear about a family like this and not be touched,” Spivey said.
Just before 1 a.m. Monday, firefighters responded to 246-A Vinson Road, where Beck’s mobile home was on fire.
Witnesses said she went into the burning trailer to try to rescue the boys, but she and her older boys perished in the fire.
“The love of a mother for her kids,” Wilkinson County Sheriff Richard Chatman said. “It’s such a tragedy.”
Chatman said he’d known Beck, whom friends called “Tinkerbell,” since she was a child.
Wilkinson County Memorial Chapel at 142 Wriley Road has charge of arrangements.
Investigators from the state fire marshal’s office began combing through what was left of the family’s single-wide mobile home Monday, trying to determine where the fire started, said Laura Wright, a spokeswoman for the office.
They didn’t find any smoke detectors, she said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Writer Amy Leigh Womack contributed to this story. To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303 and find her on Twitter@liz_lines.