A four-year-old boy died and two of his siblings had to be rescued from a burning apartment building in Southeast Washington Friday evening.
Relatives identified the boy who died as Allyaen Alexander. The family had just moved into the apartment on Buena Vista Terrace on Tuesday.
Fire officials say the flames broke out just after 6 p.m. Friday. The boy's mother says she was making a quick run to the store when it happened. The cause has not yet been determined. A firefighter who suffered hand burns was released from the hospital Saturday.
"It's too soon," Sheba Alexander said of her youngest son's death. "It should have never happened."
Fire officials say several people were trapped in the building. Fire blocked escape from the front of the building and bars prevented occupants from leaving through a door and windows in the back. The children's stepfather told News4 that the family had asked maintenance crews to remove the bars from the locked door, but that didn't happen.
"Nobody in the building had a key," the children's mother said. "If they did, they would have gotten out and my son would be alive right now."
Allyaen Alexander was in the apartment with his sister, 13-year-old Aries Alexander, and his brother, nine-year-old Julius Alexander.
Aries Alexander wept as she described her little brother.
"He used to be there," she said. "He would get in my bed. I can't wake up with him anymore."
At a candlelight vigil, relatives and friends described the boy as fun loving and happy.
"When a tragedy like this happens," one woman said, "we pull together. That's the only way to make it through."