San Diego

Funeral Service Planned for Children Killed in Rancho Bernardo Fire

A funeral service for two children killed in a fire in their Rancho Bernardo home in October will be held Friday.

Second-grader Bella Lopez and her brother, fifth-grader Cristos were students at Sunset Hills Elementary School in Rancho Bernardo.

At approximately 3:18 a.m. on Oct. 28, a fire sparked inside a condo on the 11000 block of Bernardo Terrace.

Both children did not survive the fire.

Sam Trinks, a family friend, told NBC 7 the children died of smoke inhalation.

Henry Lopez, 37, the children's father, survived the fire and remains in a medically induced coma in critical condition.

Trinks said Lopez' family from Nebraska is with him. She added that they will also be at the funeral because their grandchildren loved them and would want them to be there.

NBC 7 spoke to Taylor Anderson, who was the first person on the scene, later Thursday night. He and a passing motorist called 911.

"It just looked like a furnace," Anderson said.

He added that he wanted to go inside and help but knew it could make things harder for firefighters. He is trained as an EMT but that night, he did not have any gear with him.

"I should have tried to go in to see if I could do anything," Anderson said, fighting back tears. "I'm just kind of struggling with that a bit."

Trinks told NBC 7, the children's mom is thankful for the 911 calls.

"She really would like for that person to show up tomorrow if possible," Trinks said, referring to Anderson. "She would like to personally thank that person. It gave her the last three minutes with her son and to be able to say goodbye."

Anderson said he appreciates those words but wishes he could have done more.

The San Diego Police Department's homicide team is investigating the cause, trying to determine if it was arson or a tragic accident.

A temporary restraining order obtained by NBC 7, the children's mother, Nikia Lopez, alleged her estranged husband threatened to burn up the condo.

Investigators said it will be weeks before they release the report detailing what happened.

"It's part of the closure, good or bad. It's part of the closure and she can't have that closure yet," said Trinks of her friend Nikia. "But she wants them to do a thorough investigation...and she respects that sometimes things aren't just cut and dry, and it takes time."

Trinks said Nikia has found comfort in the community, which includes the former San Diego Chargers. The children's grandfather, Paul Lowe, once played for the team.

"It's overwhelming for her to know that many people care for the children. It's all about the kids," Trinks said.

She added that Nikia, a pre-school teacher, is also finding comfort in the children she teaches.

According to the Facebook page for the funeral, attendees are asked to dress casually and not wear black. Children are also encouraged to attend. If anyone wishes to bring flowers, the family asks that no roses be brought.

The service will be held at 8 a.m. Friday at Grace Point Church on Hayford Way. The graveside service will be at Miramar Cemetery on Nobel Drive at 10: 30 a.m.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family.

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