The family of a Winnipeg woman is in shock and wants answers after the mother of two died along with two others in a rooming house fire on Alexander Avenue over the weekend.
"I still can't believe she's gone," Barbara Bone, the mother of 21-year-old Stephanie Meekis, told CBC News Monday. "My beautiful girl, who I'll never see again; she can't tell me she loves me."
Meekis, a mother of two boys age two and one, died in the fire with one other woman. Forty-nine-year-old Melvin Jacob, a father of four, and another man were taken to hospital. Jacob died of his injuries, while the other man remains in critical condition.
Fire crews were called to the rooming house in the 300 block of Alexander Avenue Sunday at about 2:30 a.m. after reports of a fire.
There were 15 people in the building at the time, the office of the fire commissioner said.
Meekis didn't live in duplex
Meekis was visiting a friend at the duplex. She lived elsewhere in an apartment suite above her younger sister Faye Bone.
"She is usually playing music, her kids are running around. I'd go up there and check to see what they are doing to sit with her and talk with her, but [now] I can't," Faye said.
"I cared for her so much. I was so protective over [her] and trying to [help] with anything she needs and she would help me back, too."
Faye first learned about the fire from seeing a post on Facebook.
"One of the girls told me my sister was there and I called her and phoned all of the hospitals," she said. "Within an hour a detective was here and we were identifying a picture."
Barbara said her daughter was very funny, outgoing and loved her boys, who still haven't been told about what happened to their mother.
"They don't know yet that their mom is gone," she said. "My daughter just lives across the hall, so when the other grandparents bring the grandsons home they will want to go home and their mom won't be there."
Family wants answers
Faye and Barbara said they are both struggling to understand how Meekis and others were unable to escape the home.
"I want to know if there were fire alarms, if they were working — we'd like to know what happened," Faye said.
"I keep thinking she's going to come home," Barbara added.
More than 14 people live in the duplex. It's divided in to two units, both of which had smoke alarms at the time of the fire, a fire spokesperson said.
The blaze was confined to one unit, which had six adults and two youth inside at the time of the fire, the spokesperson added. There were four adults and three youth in the other unit, all of whom got out safely.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Supporters have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help cover funeral costs and raise money for housing and basic items for the tenants who lost everything in the fire.