RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Two women and a child died in a house fire Wednesday morning, according to Richmond fire officials.
Rosa Fowlkes, Ariel Hubbard and her 5-year-old son Josiah Hubbard died in the blaze, according to a brother of one of the victims.
Fowlkes' brother says her husband went to dialysis and returned home to a tragic scene.
The blaze started around 6:30 a.m. in the 6800 block of Laveta Drive, located near Chippenham Hospital in South Richmond.
Crews say it appeared to have started in the attic, and it was marked under control at 6:56 a.m.
Friends and family rushed to the scene, overcome with grief when they learned the news was true.
"I'm real shocked. It's a terrible loss. I just talked to my sister yesterday and I can't believe it. I just can't," says Rosa's brother, Walter Kirby, saying what many in the family were too stunned to put into words.
"This is a terrible loss for the whole family," he says.
Rescue crews found the family inside and rushed them to the hospital, but it was too late.
In a clip from 2013, you can hear Rosa Fowlkes cheering on her grandson as he swims and then hugs his mom, Ariel. The little boy recently celebrated his fifth birthday and loved superheroes and dressing up. Ariel was a devoted mom who called her son her best friend.
Rosa was a Corporal with the Richmond Sheriff's Office, serving the department for the last nine years, most recently in the Community Relations division.
Now, friends and loved ones are left with questions and will be forced to live without them.
"Right now, I don't have words to comprehend what happened," says Kirby.
Rosa's husband also lives in this home. He was at dialysis treatment this morning and came home to find what had happened.
In the hours after the tragic fire, an entire community was left in mourning. Eldora Brinkley, a 19-year-old resident of Laveta Drive, witnessed the entire scene. Living across the street from the family for years, Wednesday morning, it was her daughter who noticed smoke billowing from the home and they immediately called 9-1-1.
"I was frantic," Brinkley recalled. "I kept saying "there is a baby in that house, there is a baby in that house! My daughter, after calling, she ran over and she banged on he door and banged on the door, and nobody answered
Firefighters broke down the door and neighbors watched as EMS crews performed CPR on the front lawn.
"Oh no, all of them died, oh no," Brinkley said overcome with emotion. "We just praying...that's all we can do is pray."
Police say after their arson investigators surveyed the scene, that it is not "a criminal offense."
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