SPRINGFIELD, Tenn. (WKRN) – Family, friends, community members and city officials came together Friday to remember four children who were killed in a Springfield house fire earlier this week.
Two-year-old twins Julianna and Julian “J.T.” Pope, 3-year-old Julissiya “JuJu” Pope and 7-year-old Brianna Lewis, died in the fire that destroyed their Poplar Avenue home around 3:30 a.m. Monday.
On Friday, a crowd gathered at Legion Field to honor the children.
“This shows we’re more than a community. We’re a family,” said the children’s aunt, Tiffany Hawkins. “I’d like to thank the Springfield community for reaching their arms out and extending themselves, their hearts and everything to us.”
The fire started Monday morning when 32-year-old Julian Pope Sr. and his girlfriend, Brittany Crayton, were home with their seven children.
Crayton was able to escape with the two eldest boys.
According to his sister, Pope grabbed his 8-year-old daughter and ran toward the back door.
“He couldn’t make it no further so he covered her,” Hawkins told News 2. “He shielded his daughter so that he would take the burns and not her.”
Pope and his daughter eventually made it outside, and they were both rushed to the hospital.
He has burns on 40 percent of his body, and his daughter Keaja is in the hospital recovering.
“He even tried to go back inside the home,” explained Hawkins. “They heard the babies crying, they heard the babies calling for them.”
Springfield police say the fire, which appeared to be accidental, may have started from a space heater. Authorities say no charges will be filed against the children’s mother.
On Saturday, the children will all be laid to rest.
Visitation will be held at Springfield Baptist Church from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. A Celebration of Life service will immediately follow at 2 p.m. They will all be buried at Springfield Memorial Gardens after the ceremony.
The funeral home told News 2 on Thursday it is donating its services to the family.
A GoFundMe account has also been set up for the family. To donate, click here.