Family has nothing but the clothes on their backs after fatal fire

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The husband of a woman killed in a fire on Atkinson Avenue on Monday, May 13th returned to the scene one day later, as his family mourns the loss of their loved one.

Fire officials took the call just before 3:00 p.m. Monday. Fire officials said they had the fire put out within four minutes of arriving at the scene.

Officials believe the fire broke out on the third floor of the Atkinson Apartments building.

Anthony Thomas told FOX6 News he had planned a nice dinner for the two on Monday evening as an extension of Mother's Day. He grabbed a few groceries after work, and called his wife as he headed home.

However, when Thomas got off the bus 10 minutes later, he was greeted by fire officials on the scene.

Cell phone video captured flames shooting through a third floor window. Thomas lost all of his tangible possessions as a result of the fire.

"The only thing we have now is the clothes on our back," Thomas said.

Thomas says he is inconsolable after the lost of his wife of 18 years, Cora Jones-Thomas.

"I know she is looking down on me and to know Cora was to love Cora.  I just want you to keep my family in your prayers at this time," Thomas said.

Firefighters arrived three minutes after getting the call. Other residents were able to evacuate safely, but somehow, Jones-Thomas did not. The disabled 40-year-old victim was found in her bedroom.

Thomas says normally in the late afternoon, the mother of three is preparing for her children to come home. Officials are not sure whether there was a working smoke detector in the unit -- but say when crews arrived at the scene, there were smoke detectors sounding.

One day after this fatal fire, crews canvassed the neighborhood, checking homes' smoke detectors.

Officials say the cause of Monday's fire remains under investigation.

"I'm not able to start this healing process because there are unanswered questions. Cora was a good person. Anyone that knew her knew that lady had a heart of gold. She thought of others before she thought of herself," Thomas said.

Thomas' employer, Waico Apartments is taking donations to benefit the family. They are accepting all non-perishable food donations, along with clothing and anything else the family can use to rebuild their lives. Financial donations are also welcome.

Right now, the family does not have insurance or money for funeral services.

Donations can be dropped off at 1800 North 12th Street.

Related stories: