Three children died Aug. 7 in a house fire in the Pot-Nets Bayside community near Long Neck.
Assistant State Fire Marshal Michael Chionchio, at scene of the Scarp Street blaze Aug. 8, said driving rains forced the suspension of the investigation, but he remained at the location all night. Chionchio said the Delaware Division of Forensic Science would conduct autopsies on the three children, all under age 5, who died in the fire.
Chionchio said a 2-year-old child who survived the fire was taken to Beebe Healthcare for evaluation and was released to a family member. He said the rest of the family is staying with other relatives.
Chionchio estimated the loss of the home at $50,000.
Paradise Grill in Pot-Nets Bayside has announced it will conduct fundraising to help the family at its upcoming Flounder Pounder Open fishing tournament.
Owner Al Tortella said the restaurant will hold auctions and raffles during the tournament, which starts Wednesday, Aug. 14, and lasts until Sunday, Aug. 18. In addition, he said, a button will be set up on the Flounder Pounder website for anyone wishing to donate. All money raised will be given to the Good Ole Boy Foundation, a local nonprofit that helps families who have suffered unforeseen circumstances, which will in turn distribute the money to the family.
“We got to do our part to step up,” Tortella said. “It’s our community. Our backyard.”
Hours after the fire was under control, a small group of family and friends gathered in a vacant lot across the street from the scene. No one was really in the mood to talk. A feeling of shock and sadness was palpable as they watched state police detectives and fire officials try to piece together how the tragic event happened.
One woman, who declined to give her name but identified herself as the fiancée of a family member, said two of the three children were twins. She said they were all good kids. They had grown up here, she said.
Albert Apicella, who has set up a Gofundme account for the family, said the children all lived at the Pot-Nets home and they were cousins. The twins, Skylar and Veronica Marchuck, were 4, and their cousin Amaya Gentner was 18 months old.
Behind a row of small trees, a group of neighbors gathered around a golf cart. One woman said she lived in a house on the next street over. She said the neighborhood was full of kids, who were always playing. It could have been any one of them, she said.
Firefighters from Millsboro, Indian River, Georgetown and Lewes responded to the 2:30 p.m. blaze. When firefighters arrived on the scene, the rear part of the home was engulfed in flames. The fire was quickly extinguished.
Upon entering the home through heavy smoke, firefighters found the three children, all under 5 years old. Delaware State Police and the State Fire Marshal’s Office continue to investigate the fire.
Tunnell Companies L.P. released a statement after the fire.
“On behalf of the entire Pot-Nets family, we are completely devastated by the event that occurred this afternoon. We send our deepest sympathies to the families of the three children who did not survive today’s house fire. While we are grieving and stunned at this loss, we are grateful for the selfless efforts of neighbors and first responders who were first to arrive today. We pray for these children. We pray for this family. We pray for our community.”
The family is also accepting physical donations for the survivors of the fire at at the main office for Pot-Nets Communities at the intersection of Long Neck and Pot-Nets roads, 34026 Anna's Way, Long Neck.
Items needed for the three surviving children include:
• 12-18 month clothes, size 5 shoes, size 5 diapers and 2T pull ups
• XL shirts, size 17 pants and size 7-8 shoes
• Medium shirts, 17 in pants and size 6 shoes
Reporters Melissa Steele, Nick Roth and Ryan Mavity contributed to this report.