POLK TOWNSHIP, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s been one year since a devastating fire took the lives of four children and their grandmother in Monroe County.
On the night of February 11th, 2022 a fire broke out inside a home on Brook Road in Polk Township engulfing it in flames and taking the lives of 2-year-old Kasper, 4-year-old Kristian, 5-year-old Kaleb, 7-year-old Kathryn, along with 53-year-old Rosemarie La Barre inside.
Now one year later Carlos and Markie Ribera the parents and daughter of the victims walk the property where their home once stood.
The pair wasn’t home that night due to Carlos falling ill and they say La Barre tried to save their children from the fire.
“Had she stayed in the basement, she’d still be here, but she literally walked through fire to try and save our kids and so she is a hero,” explained Markie.
Looking at toys left behind on the property the couple reflects on the irreplaceable memories of their children.
“They’re kids you know. Playful, outspoken, stubborn. But they were a lot of fun, you know they liked to sing and dance, just like their mom,” said Carlos.
“As a society, we rush and rush and do all kinds of things, but we’re always doing things and not just being present where we are. So what quarantine showed us how to do, was be present with our kids. That time is time we can never get back,” said Markie.
Going through such an unthinkable tragedy Carlos and Markie say they find their strength through faith
“The thing that gets us through, it is God. It is the fact that we know that even though something horrible happened here, we can use it to glorify God. I mean that’s what we taught our kids,” explained Carlos.
Bearing matching hoodies and a cross with the names of their loved ones the couple says they’ve worked toward healing and continue to be in awe at how much the community has stepped in to help them.
“I just want to let everybody know that God is going use all the resources that they have given and that they’ve surrounded us with and loved us with, and absolutely we are going to use all those things with our kids story, and love the world to the best of our ability,” Markie expressed.
Using outlets such as creating a podcast called ‘RAW’ standing for ‘Rebelliously Authentic Worship’ the pair hopes to spread their story and help others who face tragedy.
“We can use their story for good. You know, every single person that reaches out to us and says, ‘hey, how are you doing this?’ We can share that,” said Markie.
Carlos and Markie hope to use the property where their home once stood and repurpose it into a playground for the township.
“We’ve been spending a lot of time talking about redeeming things and I know that sounds kind of silly, but you know do we want this place to just represent the tragedy that happened here? We don’t, the answer is no,” explained Markie.
Although they don’t know what the future holds they say they will take each step in forward with God.
If you’d like to help the family and donate you can do so on their GoFundMe page.