Triplets severely burned in house fire at 17 months old share their harrowing story of recovery

September 6, 2017 11:33 am Last Updated: December 21, 2017 11:27 am


In September 1988, when Chandra, Jordan, and Trae Berns were only 17 months old they were involved in a deadly house fire. Tragically, their mother Patti Berns was killed in the fire. Their father, Scott Berns, was accused of setting the family’s house on fire, but was later acquitted. He died of a drug overdose in 2003.

Ever since that fateful September day, life has been a challenge for the triplets, but their story of survival is inspiring.

While the three little girls slept, their house became engulfed in flames.

(Facebook/Chandra Yarter)

As flames took over their house in North Richland Hills, Texas, their father broke their bedroom window and pulled the girls outside to safety.

Firefighters found their mother, Patti, in a back room of the house. She was unconscious and rushed to the hospital. Patti died at the hospital three days later.

The sisters suffered burns on their faces, arms, chests and backs.

(ABC News/Screenshot)

While the girls survived, they suffered third-degree burns over a third of their small bodies. Recovery would not be easy for the triplets.

“What I’ve been told is that I probably, you know, got on top and was on top of the girls in the crib, so I got burned the worst,” Chandra, the eldest triplet, told ABC News in an interview.

The girls were too young to understand the magnitude of their loss or how much treatment they would need, but their maternal grandmother, Sue Dusek, who cared from them after the fire, called the experience “horrible” and “traumatic.”

Over the next several years, the girls underwent multiple surgeries and attended physical therapy.

(ABC News/Screenshot)

As toddlers, they endured extreme pain, which the triplets say thankfully they do not remember. One of the causes of the physical pain was the compression suits they had to wear to help treat their severe burns.

“It was just horrible trying to put [the suits] on them because they would cry it would hurt,” Dusek told ABC News. “They would just cry knowing when you’d come at them with them. And my husband and I would cry too.”

As Chandra, Jordan, and Trae got older and started to venture outside of the house they were faced with stares, questions, and snide remarks from strangers and eventually their classmates.

“One girl, I remember she said, ‘You know, your last name (Berns) suits you well,'” Jordan told ABC News.

When the triplets reached high school, they covered their scars with makeup and often wore long sleeves. Unfortunately this still didn’t stop the comments, and the girls grew increasingly self-conscious.

But one day, they read about a woman who was burned in a grease fire and had laser treatment to help with her scars.

The girls hoped that one day technology could help their scars.

(ABC News/Screenshot)

The Berns’ sister called Dr. Jill Waibel, the doctor who treated the woman in the story that they read, and they anxiously awaited her reply.

“We had such high hopes and we were so excited, we could barely contain ourselves,” Jordan said.

Several weeks after they called Dr. Waibel, the girls and their grandmother made the journey from Texas to Florida for a consultation. They received excellent news. Dr. Waibel would be able to help reduce the appearance of their scars, and the company who made the laser technology would pay for their treatments.

After undergoing the treatments, the sisters regained their confidence.

(Facebook/Chandra Yarter)

It has been several years since the Berns sisters have gone public with their story, which they hoped would help benefit other people in a similar situation.

According to TODAY, since 2009, when they told their story, there have been 50,000 burn patients who have undergone the same treatment.

“We were blessed to have each other growing up, where you know we could go through challenges together,” Jordan told TODAY. “I know other people don’t have that, so when we shared our story, I think that let a lot of people know ‘Hey, there’s someone else out there like me too.'”