When a woman woke up on the day of her 34th birthday, what was meant to be a day filled with love and celebrations turned out to be something far more sinister and devastating.
Sabrina Dunigan’s five children from East St. Louis were in their apartment in the early morning hours in early August 2021 when something happened that would alter their family forever.
When Dunigan saw something wrong in her apartment where her five children, 20-month-old Loy’El, 4-year-old Jabari, 8-year-old twins Nevaeh and Heaven, and 9-year-old Dontae, were sleeping, she immediately sprung to action.
What Happened to Dunigan and Her Children?
Dunigan was not home when a fire broke out in the early morning hours in her apartment building. She had gone to fetch another adult from work, and when she returned, she saw her unit on fire. She ran back inside to try and save her children.
It was Dunigan’s 34th birthday, and although the family had expected to celebrate later that day, they grieved instead. Dunigan ran into her apartment and suffered burns on her arms and legs but could not reach her children in time.
Her father and his wife had promised to look after the children while Dunigan was out as they lived in the same apartment building, but Dunigan’s father admitted that they had fallen asleep. Dunigan’s father and his wife jumped from a second-story window to escape the fire.
Tragically, four of Dunigan’s children died at the scene, and another died from injuries at the hospital later. Investigators believed it was an electrical fire and cited a lack of smoke detectors as the reason for the children’s deaths.
When firefighters arrived on the scene, they found two of Dunigan’s children dead in their bedroom and two more unconscious on the floor. As they transported the unconscious children from the building, they, too, passed away.
Talking about how their family was feeling after the ordeal, Dunigan’s aunt, Sheila Dunigan, shared:
“Our family has never taken a hit like this, ever. We are devastated. We are broken.”
The chief firefighter on the scene also said the firefighters had taken the incident hard. The Dunigan family then asked for privacy to mourn the children as more details about the fire unfolded.