DENAIR (CBS13) – Three people, including two young boys, died overnight in a house fire in Denair, the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department said on Sunday.
The victims were all male – ages 3, 8 and 25. Crews responded to the fire at around 1:45 a.m. along Fresno Avenue.
The home belonged to Megan Mugaldo, the mother of the two young boys named Mason and Bennet, according to her aunt Maria Uballe. Uballe told CBS13 her niece was working at a nearby gas station at the time of the fire.
"I understand that she saw the smoke and flames and just thought she'd come check it out and it turned out to be her home," Uballe said.
"Pain. That's a hard loss. Three at one time."
Family also told CBS13 the 25-year-old man killed in the fire was named Sergio, the fiancé of the boys' mother.
Authorities have not yet officially confirmed the identities of the victims.
The family told CBS13 that Sergio was a quiet and hard-working man. And, that the two boys were fun to be around and enjoyed swimming.
"They loved life and they loved to smile and they loved to be around family," Monique Uballe, Maria's daughter and cousin of the boys, said. "We're getting ready to celebrate that this weekend. And, unfortunately, we have to celebrate them being with God and not with us."
According to the sheriff's office, first responders learned the three victims were trapped inside the home, which was heavily involved in flames. The Denair Fire Department said crews were able to make entry to part of the home, but had to retreat due to heavy fire and a collapsing roof.
Once the fire was extinguished, the three were still unaccounted for, but the sheriff's office said multiple crews eventually located the remains of the victims.
Investigators on Sunday said no crime is suspected in the fatal fire at this time, and it has been deemed an unfortunate accident. Though, the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
The 8-year-old boy was later confirmed to be a student of the Denair Unified School District. Terry Metzger, superintendent of the district, issued a statement, reading:
The entire Denair Unified family is mourning the loss of three lives in a house fire early this morning, including one of our Denair Elementary Charter Academy students. Denair is a tight-knit community and school administrators are currently reaching out to staff and families. We are arranging for on-site grief counseling for adults and children next week. Details will be communicated on Tuesday.
It's a tragic loss for the community and especially for this family. But, as they ask for the community's prayers, they're not letting the loss shake their strength as a family or how they'll remember their loved ones.
"That though they may have died in a fire, that's not what they want to be remembered as," Monique Uballe said. "And thought, you might, you know, be going through some tough things; the people around you are going to carry you through. And Megan, we love you and we are going to carry you through this."
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