"The girls were with their grandma while their mother was finishing up her Christmas wrapping getting everything ready for them."
Tragedy struck a family just days before Christmas when a fire took the lives of their two young daughters. According to a press release from the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, the bodies of the girls were recovered on the afternoon of December 23 from the charred and blackened house of their grandmother in Minnesota. The victims, identified by the grieving family as sisters 6-year-old AceLynn and 5-year-old RaeLynn, were staying the night with their grandma while their mother prepared for the holiday. "The girls were with their grandma while Amber (their mother) was finishing up her Christmas wrapping getting everything ready for them," Megan Mckenna, the girls' aunt, told CBS affiliate WCCO.
"They were very close, they're inseparable," said Kayla Stellick, another one of the girls' aunts. "AceLynn was more outgoing than RaeLynn, she was, you know, the shy one." The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office said in their statement that the cause of the residential fire in Liberty Township—located about 230 miles northwest of Minneapolis—remains under investigation. They also revealed that the second floor of the house was already fully engulfed in flames by the time crews arrived at the scene.
'Beautiful' Sisters, 6 and 5, Killed in Fire While Spending Night at Grandma's House Before Christmas https://t.co/cVOjO3XxvX— People (@people) December 27, 2021
"No further details will be released at this time," Sheriff Ernie Beitel said in the statement, adding that, "the victims were transported to the medical examiner's office for autopsy and identification. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families during this difficult time." A neighbor reportedly alerted the girls' mother, Amber, about the tragedy. "She was escorted onto the scene," said McKenna. "I waited for her and felt like forever. I saw her walking down the road, crying, and we didn't really say much. We just hugged each other." The young sisters were unaccounted for several hours before crews found their bodies in the fire-ravaged house. The family says the girls' grandmother, who was taken to the hospital, blames herself for the unbearable loss.
"She did everything she could to try to get them out – she just wasn't able to," said Stellick. The girls' aunts revealed that both sisters loved gymnastics. "AceLynn loves school, she just started kindergarten this year," said Stellick. The young girls were the babies of the family and leave behind three older brothers. "They were both really sweet girls. They were very, very loved by everyone," Stellick added.
"On the early morning of December 23rd, my sister's girls AceLynn 6, and RaeLynn 5, were tragically taken from us in a house fire," she wrote in a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the girls' funeral expenses. "They were spending the night with their grandma so their mother could wrap presents and get Christmas ready for them when they got home. As you can imagine, the family of these girls is heartbroken. These girls meant everything to Amber. She loved them so much. After having 3 boys, she wanted a little girl so bad, then she was blessed with two of them. Losing her babies are extremely devastating to her and every who knew and loved these girls."
Yesterday my town had a home fire, the kids did not make it out... I wanted to share this gofundme link in case if any of you could donate to the family or share it to get others attention... I dont know the family...but its sad thing before Christmas...https://t.co/7J7o53waQY— Elizabeth (@ElizabethOkland) December 24, 2021
"We are setting up this GoFundMe page to raise money to help with funeral cost, and other costs as the mother is not able to return to work right away, as she just lost her 2 kids. She has 3 other kids that she needs to be there for and take care of them. Donations and prayers will be greatly appreciated as we try to wrap our heads around losing these special, beautiful little girls," Stellick added. A separate GoFundMe has been started for the girls' grandmother, Kathy Elton, who lost her home and belongings in the fire.