Nine children have been killed in Akron house fires over the past ten months and firefighters did not find any evidence of smoke detectors in any of the tragedies.
Last Thursday night, a fire broke out at a Seward Avenue home. Two sisters, Jada Snowden, 12, and Kymera Cody, 5, were pulled from the house in critical condition and died over the weekend at Akron Children's Hospital.
Their mother, Desiree Philmore, survived the fire. The cause of the deadly blaze remained under investigation, fire officials told News 5 on Monday.
Minister Kevin Butts, the grandfather of the girls, said he will remember them as very happy children who brought joy and sunshine with them wherever they went.
"I'm sick with grief and pain," Butts said.
For the third time in less than a year, the Akron Public School District activated a crisis response team to help grieving classmates cope with fire deaths. The team includes counselors and psychologists.
Jada was a seventh grader at Buchtel Community Learning Center. Kymera was a kindergartner at Schumacher.
"We just wish for the best and pray that God will give us comfort during this time as we go forth putting one foot in front of the other," Butts said.
Short-term counseling includes allowing students to express their feelings and participate in art therapy.
But the district said part of the long-term solution will likely involve providing additional information to families about the importance of smoke detectors.
"In this situation, there's a lot of resources for fire detectors and the Red Cross and the fire department, all of those great resources and just sharing that information, getting it out there and reinforcing it," said APS psychologist Brian Hill.
Last May, seven people, including five kids, were killed in an arson on Fultz Avenue. The children were identified as Cameron Huggins, 1, Alivia Huggins, 3, Kylle Huggins, 5, Daisia Huggins, 6, and Jared Boggs, 14. Angela Boggs, 38, and Dennis Huggins, 35, were also killed.
Stanley Ford is accused of setting that fire and another fire in 2016-- also on Fultz Avenue-- that killed two adults.
Ford is being held in the Summit County Jail awaiting trial on multiple charges, including aggravated murder.
Butts hopes and the message about smoke detectors in homes grows louder.
"It's all of our responsibility to try to make sure that we take all precautions necessary to ensure the safety of each and every one of us," he said. "Let's talk about it."
Calling hours for Jada and Kymera will be from 10 a.m to noon on October 20 at Crouse Community Learning Center. Funeral services will follow. There is no school that day due to parent teacher conferences.
A spaghetti dinner fundraiser for the family is scheduled for October 25 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Buchtel.