Raleigh, N.C. — A Raleigh mother whose apartment caught fire while she, her four children and the children's father were inside said she thinks complications from the fire may have contributed to the death of her infant son less than a week later.
Practically everything the Yates family owned was destroyed when fire ripped through an apartment building at 211 Park Ave. Wednesday.
The blaze displaced all 15 residents of the building, including Whitney Bass, Jonathan Yates and the couple's four children, who are being assisted by the Red Cross.
According to a report released by the Raleigh Fire Department, Yates was making breakfast Wednesday when the pan caught fire and the flames spread through the kitchen. The report states that Yates attempted to put out the fire, but when he realized it was getting worse, he got his family out of the building quickly.
But Bass said they couldn't get out right away. She said the bedroom doorknob had broken off the night before and she was trapped inside with her children.
"As we were stuck in the room, it was filling up with smoke," she said. "My husband had to bust the door down to get us out."
Paramedics spent about an hour checking out the children, including 2-month-old Elijah, Bass said.
The young mother was relieved when none of the children were taken to the hospital.
"I have my four angels still here and I have my family. It could have been a different story," she said.
But Friday around midnight, the story took a turn for the worse. Bass woke up to find something wrong with baby Elijah.
"He wasn't breathing. He had white stuff coming out of his nose," she said.
A little more than an hour later, Elijah was pronounced dead.
Bass questions whether the fire contributed to his death.
"It's all of a sudden. He was a fine healthy baby. Nothing was wrong with him, no problems. No problems at birth. Nothing was wrong with him," she said.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Chapel Hill confirmed that an autopsy was performed to determine how the child died, but said results wouldn't be available for a few months.
In the mean time, Bass is trying to find the money to afford a burial for her baby.
"I just feel empty that a part of me is not here anymore, and I don't know why," she said. "It just hurts so bad."
Montlawn Funeral Home on South Wilmington Street in Raleigh is covering some of the funeral costs, Bass said, but the family still needs help.
The Red Cross plans to help them find housing next month.