Colfax Ave. fire escapee: 'It could have been all of us' - KMSP-TV

Colfax Ave. fire escapee: 'It could have been all of us'

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

LaTonya Garrett says it wasn't always easy living on the first floor of a home where seven children played above her, but she says she would give anything to hear all of them playing again.

"It could have been all of us. Had my son not woke up and heard him screaming up there, I wouldn't have been able to call the police and we would've all been sleeping until it was too late," Garrett said.

Garrett and her family say they're lucky to have evaded a Valentine's Day tragedy in a duplex on Colfax Avenue North where a fire killed five of her neighbor's seven children.

Garrett, her daughters Michelle and Nicole, her son Antonio, boyfriend and two other family members Taleah and Tyree Cox all lived on the first floor of the duplex.

"I yelled up there and said, ‘Troy, what's burning up there?' He said the heater," Garrett recalled.

Garrett lost her home to a circumstance she had no control over and she's not taking kissing and playing with her children for granted.

"It just changes my viewpoint on a lot of things, living in a duplex, living in an apartment building where my life is at the disposal of any accident that can happen," Garrett said.

Those kids now need a fresh start with school clothes and supplies.

V.J. Smith, founder of Minneapolis MAD DADS, has opened a donation fund for the Garretts.

"The water damaged absolutely everything in their place, there's nothing to salvage, so they're starting all over again," Smith said.

The Garretts are staying at a hotel for now, but their landlord Paul Bertelson is preparing a separate unit for her family to move into next month.

"I used to sit in my living room and complain because the kids were so loud up there and I used to just sit there, oh I wish they would stop. Now I would give anything to have that back," Garrett said. "I was sitting in my living room every morning hearing them, and now I can't anymore. My heart's definitely with him."

If you would like to help the Garrett family you can drop off donations at BMO Harris Bank. Checks can be written to "MAD DADS care of the Garrett family."

Clothing donations will be collected at Shiloh Temple in Minneapolis all week long.

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