A tight-knit community gathered around a family suffering the loss of their middle school student killed when fire swept through his San Diego home.
Fernando Castro, 12, was killed when fire swept through his single-story house in the Mt. Hope community. His brother and half-sister are in critical condition after the blaze.
At a vigil outside the burned building Tuesday, a crowd of relatives, neighbors and friends comforted each other as they coped with Fernando's death.
"I came here tonight to support this family...at this tragic time," said friend David Henry.
Another friend, Julie Manning, described Fernando as an angel who is with other angels now.
"What a terrific little boy," said Manning. "He'd come in every morning, smiling and full of hugs and love."
The boy’s cousin Ramon Vasquez shared a photo of the Millennial Tech Middle School student known as "Nano" to family and friends and who school administrators called a happy boy.
Vasquez stopped by the neighborhood before heading to UCSD Medical Center where his two other cousins were in critical condition with burns covering 80 percent of their bodies.
Family members have told NBC 7 that 3-year-old Esmeralda and 5-year-old Luis were so badly burned in the fire that they have been placed in medically induced comas.
"Right now, they're in intensive care," said Ramon Castro, a cousin. "They're stable. That's pretty much all we know as of right now. It's just a day-to-day battle."
A babysitter and her boyfriend were with the children while their mother drove her older daughter back to college after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
When San Diego Fire-Rescue crews arrived, flames engulfed the small home. Crews were told by neighbors that there were three children trapped in the flames. They rescued two children and rushed them to a waiting ambulance. The third child, Fernando, was found dead inside.
A neighbor told NBC 7 he heard the babysitter say one of the children may have put a space heater by the bed.
Fire officials have not determined the cause of the fire although they say they are ruling it an accident.
There are several online fundraising accounts set up to help the family handle memorial and medical costs as well as replace their belongings.
Here are the links: