Family, friends hold vigil for teen, woman killed in fire

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by Erika Flores

Bio | Email | Follow: @ErikaFloresTV

azfamily.com

Posted on August 24, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Updated Sunday, Aug 24 at 11:34 AM

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Family and friends gathered for a special vigil after a house fire left a wheelchair-bound teenage boy and a woman dead.

The fire happened Friday night near Bethany Home Road and 61st Avenue.

Melvin Martin said he lost his 16-year-old son, Elijah Martin, and his 49-year-old niece, Helen Russell, in the fire.

He said he enjoyed seeing friends and family coming out for the vigil, placing candles, bears and balloons showing him how much his son was loved.

Martin said his son was at the home visiting his cousin when the fire happened.

He said Elijah often spent the night there to spend time with his 15-year-old cousin, the only one who made it out of the burning home.

Martin said neighbors helped get his 15-year-old nephew out, and once the teen realized Elijah and Russell were still inside, he tried to go back in but there was too much smoke and fire.

Firefighters said Elijah and Russell died in the fire.

Martin said Elijah had spina bifida, so he moved around in a wheelchair.

He was a student at Glendale High School, and many of his classmates came to the vigil to show their support.

Martin said it's helped him seeing Elijah's friends because it's been a very difficult day for him after losing his two loved ones.

He said Elijah was the youngest of his children.

"I really haven't been able to sleep thinking about my child. People don’t understand you can lose a mother and a father, but when you lose your own it's completely different," Martin said.

Glendale Fire said they are investigating the cause.

RELATED:

2 dead in Glendale house fire

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