Milwaukee mother mourns son with special needs who died in fire

A Milwaukee mother lost her only son in a fire near 15th and Oklahoma on Saturday, March 20. Norma Garcia said she devoted her life to her son, a 25-year-old man with special needs. Devastated by his death, she's now trying to ensure he has a proper funeral.  

"I miss him, my son," said Garcia.

Garcia clutched a photo of her only son, Rafael Gonzalez, as she spoke with FOX6 News with the help of a family friend.

Rafael Gonzalez

Rafael Gonzalez

"She said that her son was everything," said Moises Gomez, who translated for Garcia.

Garcia explained how a trip to the store Saturday morning turned tragic. She returned to find her home on fire, and Gonzalez inside.

"What happened, it was something that, you don’t expect it," said Gomez.

Moises Gomez, Norma Garcia

Moises Gomez, Norma Garcia

Gonzalez was found beneath a stuffed animal and did not survive.

Firefighters said it took them 14 minutes to find him because of a hoarding situation inside the home. Garcia said that's simply not true.

"Everything happened so quick," said Gomez. "They had everything planned. They had a new house, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen."

Garcia said they were in the process of moving and had plans this weekend to throw out a lot of the stuff.

Rafael Gonzalez

Rafael Gonzalez

"They were planning to move to a new life," said Gomez.

Garcia believes her son was hiding in a bed out of fear and confusion.

"He just kind of got a little bit scared and instead of going out, he got back in the bed," said Gomez.

She is remembering his loving and joyful demeanor, trying now to stay strong as she plans to say goodbye.

Fire near 15th and Oklahoma

"She says she has to do it for him," said Gomez.

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Firefighters are investigating the cause of the fire. A account has been set up to help pay for funeral expenses.

25-year-old man dies in house fire near 15th and Oklahoma

Milwaukee police are investigating a fatal fire that happened near S. 15th Place and W. Oklahoma Avenue shortly before 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 20.