Mother grieves loss of 2 sons after Christmas Day fire

Mother grieves loss of 2 sons after Christmas Day fire

Correction: This story was corrected to say that the house that caught fire was in the 20000 block of Helen Street in Detroit.

Detroit — Christmas at Demika Pinson’s house was shaping up to be a memorable one for her children.

The youngsters were so eager for their gifts, Pinson allowed them to open up one apiece before dawn at the Christmas tree downstairs, then urged the five to return to bed so they could be rested to open more presents brought from relatives later in the morning.

Three did so. But two, De’Lon Wheeler, 7, and Damarion Wheeler, 6, “fell asleep by the tree because they were so excited about getting up,” Pinson said.

Both died after a fire ravaged their two-story east side home shortly before 9 a.m. Their siblings were also hospitalized and also face a long recovery.

At the end of what was supposed to be a happy holiday, Pinson was homeless, still smelling smoke in her hair and struggling to grasp her loss.

“It’s unbelievable this is something to wake up to on Christmas,” she told The Detroit News after her release from the hospital on Friday night. “It’s just tragic.”

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Fire officials are working to determine the cause of the blaze, which they said appeared to be accidental.

De’Lon Wheeler

“It could have been electrical, Christmas tree or kids playing with matches, but it’s not suspicious,” said Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell.

Detroit firefighters responded to a call Friday at 8:48 a.m. in the 20000 block of Helen Street. When they arrived, they saw heavy fire coming out of the windows of the house, Fornell said.

Pinson had already jumped out of a second-floor window with her 2-year-old daughter in her arms. They did not appear to be injured and were hospitalized as a precaution, Fornell said.

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