Mother and son killed in Ringgold house fire
RINGGOLD, GA (WRCB) -- Close friends and neighbors are trying to cope with the death of a five-year-old boy and his mother. Both were killed when fire tore through their home early Thursday morning.
The fire that claimed the lives of Claire Coots and her five-year-old son Riley broke out just after midnight in their home on Country Haven Lane.
Investigators say the fire appears to have started in the garage and quickly spread throughout the home. Firefighters found Coots and her son in the same room, and think they tried to escape the smoke and flames.
"The house is basically the worst memory of it. It practically gives you a hundred pictures in your mind of how it could have happened," says 10-year-old Noah Bluhaouli, as he looks on at the charred house of his best friend.
"The worst thing though about this is that I know, I'll never be able to see them again. And the second worse thing is the pain that the family is going through," says Bluhaouli.
Intense flames consumed the house of Claire Coots and her five-year-old son Riley. They never made it out.
Noah says while he misses his best friend, he cannot even imagine what family members are going through.
"The father and the grandma, all of them, have to be going through so much pain to see, you know. The grandma's going to see her daughter, which is Riley's mom, she won't be able to see her daughter anymore," says Bluhaouli.
"He was a sweet little boy," says neighbor Jonathan Stockil.
Stockil ran to the house to try and help but knew it was too late.
He says the day before the fire, he saw Riley running around the yard with his dog and will always remember 'the boy with the electric blue eyes.'
"He had the most interesting eyes. They were a light blue. Very rare to see people with eyes like that."
He says without a doubt, Riley and his mother are in a better place.
"I'm a man of faith and I think God will explain things to us. We cannot explain why that little boy had to die, but somehow, we'll know one day," says Stockil.
"There's always a bright side and a bad side to everything. The bright side to this is that he's in heaven. The bad side, my closest friend died," says Bluhaouli with tears in his eyes.
Riley was in Pre-K at Tiger Creek Elementary School. Neighbors say Claire worked for her family's business.
Neighbors reported several large explosions with the fire. Investigators say propane tanks may have helped fuel the flames. Right now the cause is unknown. They say the house did have a working smoke alarm.
Both the fire and the deaths are being investigated by the State Fire Marshal's office and the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office.