A mother who lost two of her children in a huge blaze in Maryland in 2015 has spoken out for the first time to warn others about the dangers of dry Christmas trees in the home.
An inferno swept through Don and Sandra Pyle’s mansion in the early hours of Jan. 19 2015 when an electrical fire spread to their Christmas tree, engulfing their home and trapping all six family members inside.
Don and Sandra Pyle had just treated four of their grandchildren, Alexis Boone, 8, Kaitlyn Boone, 7, Charlotte Boone, 8 and Wesley Boone, 6 to dinner and a show at a family dinner theater.
All family members were killed in the blaze.
Eve Boone remembered her children, Charlotte and Wesley as “beautiful, happy and fun.”
In an interview with NBC 4 Washington, Boone shared her story for the first time three years after the tragedy. She hopes that her words will help people become more aware of holiday fire safety.
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) January 28, 2015
— Firefighter Nation (@firenation) August 5, 2015
“This didn’t have to happen, and it doesn’t have to happen,” she said. “So, if I can ever stop even one person from going through something like this, it’s worth it.”
She recalled the traumatic moments three years ago when she realized that her family had been taken by the fire.
“We were at a neighbor’s house waiting for any word. As time went on, it became apparent what had happened,” she said in the interview, as she tried to hold back her tears.
The 15-foot tree in the $9 million Maryland mansion was reportedly dry as it was only watered once a week.
“This fire was so intense, so hot and spread so quickly that nobody in the house had an opportunity to escape, and it explains why all six victims perished,” David Cheplak, a special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told NBC 4.
According to the Daily Mail, it took ten hours for firefighters to extinguish the fire.
The Maryland Fire Marshal wrote in a tweet on Jan. 19 that “the loss is still painful.”
— MD Fire Marshal (@bsg_mdsfm1) January 19, 2018
Boone has taken up horse riding in honor of her daughter, Charlotte, who loved to ride horses.
“She had a lot of spirit,” Boone said, smiling as she recalled her daughter. “She was going to be an animal rescuer. And famous at the same time.”
She went skydiving on her son Wesley’s birthday in memory of him.
“This is something that he will laugh at me for doing,” she said. “How could his mom ever jump out of a plane?”
She added: “Try to keep in mind: What would they want you to do that day? Would they want to see you cry and be upset? They know that you miss them, but they don’t want you to be sad.”
Stacey Boone, the mother of the two other children killed in the fire also shared her thoughts on the third anniversary of their deaths in a Facebook post.
She wrote: “Today marks 3 years since I kissed my sweet girls. I still have days where my mind plays tricks on me and I think they are coming home. I still have days where I’m absolutely crushed with sadness and am brought to my knees. Yet over time, the fog has started to lift and am granted moments of clarity.
“I am forever grateful for the time I had with Lexi and Katie. I have always said that I don’t want my kids to be remembered for how they died, but for how they lived. Please help honor them today in passing along some lessons they (and Don & Sandy and Charlotte & Wes) lived by.
“First and most importantly…be kind. You never know what’s going on in a person’s life, so a simple smile or act of kindness could make their day. Be generous…there are always people (and animals) that could use your help. Giving just a little of your time or money could mean a world of difference for them.
“Lastly, believe in Santa. By this I mean believe in the impossible and live your life as if you are always trying to be “on the Good list.” My children were young enough and fortunate enough that they still saw the good in everyone, wanted to save all the animals, and still believed in make believe. Please help me continue their memory today, and everyday.”