HEMET (CBSLA) — A grieving mother who lost three of her children and her husband in a tragic fire in Hemet the day after Christmas is speaking out and thanking the community and first responders.
Fighting through her grief, Christina McGraw Moreno stood before a crowd at a youth center, because she had something she wanted to say.
“Thank you to the firefighters that came out and the police officers,” she said. “And, again, I want to thank the hospital that my son was at. The nurses were awesome.”
Last week, Juan Moreno died trying to save his children after their Christmas tree apparently caught fire, sending flames throughout their apartment. Three of their children — 4-year-old Janessa, 8-year-old Isaac and 12-year-old Maria — also died.
The youth center wanted the surviving family, Christina and two of her children, to know that they were not alone.
“Anytime that there’s a tragedy like that with a family, you just want to rally around and help them out and show God’s love and kindness,” Ruth Collins, a community member, said.
Family members said the outpouring of support has been a bright spot in a very dark time.
Juan Moreno’s sister, Diana Ramirez, said in the past she would have turned to him in times like this.
“It just doesn’t feel real,” she said. “It feels like I’m still gonna get a phone call from him or a text message from the kids or something. It just doesn’t feel real.”
The family said they miss his jokes and the children’s laughter, but said they are thankful for the community that has embraced them.
“Thank you for all your love and your support and just all of your wonderful hugs,” McGraw Moreno said.
The Tuesday vigil was also a fundraiser to help cover expenses for the Moreno family. A GoFundMe page has also been set up. As of Tuesday, it had raised more than $44,000 of its initial $20,000 goal.