HORROR INFERNO: Mother Loses 5 Children, Burnt to Death on her birthday

"Our family has never taken a hit like this, ever. We are devastated. We are broken." - Dunigan stated
Mother Loses 5 Children, Burnt to Death on her birthday

34-year-old, Sabrina Dunigan, bereft of words, expressed her sadness over deaths of five young loved ones in an East St. Louis apartment fire on their mother's birthday.

"It's hard. It's just so hard," Sheila Dunigan; a relative cried.

Dunigan stated that;
"Our family has never taken a hit like this, ever. We are devastated. We are broken."

The children are 20-month-old Loy'El, 4-year-old Jabari, 8-year-old twins Nevaeh and Heaven, and 9-year-old Dontae, according to relatives.

According to Sheila Dunigan;

"Sabrina cared for her kids. She loved those kids and we all loved those kids."

Flames broke out inside the family's second-floor apartment on North 29th near State Street at 3 a.m. Friday, according to investigators.

The children's mother was not at home at the time, according to authorities, because she had gone to pick up another adult from work. When the mother returned, firefighters say she dashed back inside the burning unit to save her children, but she was unable to reach her three daughters and two boys in time.

8-year-old twins Nevaeh and Heaven (Credit: Tyra Dunigan/Facebook)

According to relatives, the family stayed at the house for roughly a year.

"No one knows the facts about anything. We're asking people to let us mourn," added Sheila Dunigan.

"I just want everybody to pray for my niece because this is a tragedy," said Etta McCray, the mom's aunt.

Sabrina and the twins (Credit: Tyra Dunigan/Facebook)

Sabrina Dunigan was interviewed by 5 On Your Side a year and a half ago after she informed detectives that her boyfriend had set her home on fire on purpose.

"That case was settled," a family member says.

"And thank God no one was hurt then," said Sheila Dunigan.

20-month-old Loy'El (Credit: Tyra Dunigan/Facebook)

Friends, neighbors, and community leaders gathered at the location for a prayer vigil hours after the fire on Friday. It was their way of offering consolation to the bereaved family.

"God we just ask that you wrap your loving arms around this family," a preacher said during the vigil.

Meanwhile, just steps away from a growing memorial for the five children who died, there were many tears and hugs.

The mother rushed in to try to save her children (Credit: KMOV)

"People are judging my niece. Please, don't judge her. Pray for her, that's all I'm asking right now, " said Sheila Dunigan.

"We just got to trust God no matter what it looks like. He's our strength," said Etta McCray, the mom's aunt.

Sabrina Dunigan has returned to her family.

4-year-old Jabari (Credit: Family Handout)

Investigators suspect the fire originated in the family's apartment's front room.

The cause is still being investigated.