The joy of a holiday and birthday celebration turned to tragedy last week as a fast-moving house fire inside a Bellevue Street three-decker stole the lives of two children, one of whom had just celebrated her ninth birthday just hours before. Flames ripped through the blue-colored home just after midnight on Dec. 29. Twelve residents escaped, but two young children in the Zizi family-Rooben, 11, and Rebecca, 9- did not. The children, both students at the Taylor School on Morton Street, perished despite attempts by family members to reach their bedroom, which was quickly engulfed in flames.
Boston fire officials confirmed this week that a portable space heater, found in the children's bedroom, was the source of the blaze.
Now, as Mona and Gary Zizi plan a double funeral for Jan. 12, they are also fighting to find a home for themselves and their remaining four children; Gueline, 23, Samuel, 19, Junior, 17, and Melinde, 7.
"They have lost everything," said Reverend Michael Louis of Eglise Pentecote Libre in Dorchester, who is the pastor of the Zizi family. "Our church has opened a fund for the family and we are also accepting food and clothes donations at the church, but the most important thing is finding these people a home."
The Zizis found temporary shelter at the Best Western Hotel in Roxbury (funded by Red Cross), but may have to leave as soon as Thursday.
"I have been calling the Mayor's office and have met with Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry to see if we can extend their stay at the hotel," said Reverend Louis. "So far we don't have a definitive answer, but I will continue to work on it."
Rev. Louis says he is currently looking for funeral homes and a location for the service. On New Year's Day, the Zizi family huddled in a room at the Massachusetts Avenue hotel as a stream of well-wishers and relatives came in and out of their small suite. Some brought them bowls of a traditional soup enjoyed by Haitian families to mark the new year.
"Right now the family is with friends and family, struggling to keep it together," Louis said.
"Everything moves along slowly for them, but they are hanging in there," said a close family friend, Jacqueline Dumas. "They have to start all over, but the process depends on how much our community is willing to help. Anything and everything will be greatly appreciated. Nothing is too little."
Donations to the Zizi Family Fund Trust can be made at any Citizens Bank.
Food or clothes donations can be sent to the church at 249 Harvard St. in Dorchester.
Clothing sizes: Gueline and Melande are 7-8. Samuel and Junior wear large to extra large shirts. Junior wears a 32-34 in pants and 10 shoes. Samuel wears size nine shoes. Mona Zizi is a size 16 and Gary Zizi is a large in shirts and wears 30-32 in pants.
For further information call Reverend Michael Louis at 617-461-3220 or call the church at 617-288-8689.