Mourners gathered Saturday for three children killed in an early morning house fire last week put faith in God's plan.
"Someone said, 'How can praise God at this time?' We praise God because He is God. And he knows best, and He knows what he's doing. There's nothing He's done that He doesn't know," said Elder Eddie Anderson of the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ.
Dashiyah Austin, 2, Joseph Austin, 4, and Stacey Austin, Jr., 9, all died when fire consumed their home on the 6700 block of South Emerald Avenue on April 7. Fire officials said the 4-year-old was playing with a lighter in the bedroom and started the inferno.
Their three bodies were held in small caskets at the front of the church.
The father of the children, Stacey Austin, spoke briefly after the roughly 90 minute service.
"It's a tragedy. We're all trying to pull together and get passed it. And may God bless everyone that truly helped my family out. I really appreciate it," he said.
Two of the family's older surviving children attended, while the five youngest were left at home because the parents worried they couldn't understand the experience, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Family members took comfort in the confidence that the children were in Heaven.
In a statement released Friday, Stacey and his wife, Samantha Sims, urged all parents to make sure they purchase fire extinguishers for their homes.
"If you can afford a fire extinguisher, buy one," he said. "That’s always great to have in your home because a fire extinguisher will give you some extra time."
The children were buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery on the far south side.
Assisting the Family
While some of the funeral costs have been paid for, there are related expenses still pending. The Austins have also received some clothing donations for the children, but the couple also lost their own clothes and are in need of clothing as well.
Checks can be sent to the: Austin Family Fund, U.S. Bank, 815 W. 63rd St., Chicago, IL 60621 or to the Calahan Funeral Home, 7030 S. Halsted, Chicago, IL 60621.
The Calahans have vowed to help the Austin family.
For those wishing to donate clothes to the surviving children and the parents:
Devion Sims, 12, clothes size 12-14, shoe size, 6
Jaylan Austin, 5, clothes size 5T, shoe size, 13 Toddler
Lamar Austin, 6 months old, clothes size 18 months - 24-months, shoe size 4 baby.
Simone Austin, 10, clothes size10-12, shoe size 4
Jamiya Austin, 7, clothes size 10-12, shoe size 3
Dayjah,6, clothes size 6, shoe size, 2
Samaria Austin, 1, clothes size 2T-3T and shoe size 5 Toddler
Stacey Austin: pants: 38 waist, length 34 Shirt: 171/2 or Extra Double X Shoes: 13 Jacket: XX
Samantha Sims: Pants: 14 Blouse: Extra Large Shoes: 9 Jacket: XX