Balloon release organized for 2 children and their mother killed in the fire of a house in Haleyville

HALEYVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) – A moving balloon release took place Thursday morning to remember two children and their mother killed in a house fire in Haleyville last week.

Jacob Evans, 4, his sister Annabelle, 8, and their mother, Cara Evans, 44, all died in the fire.

Both children attended Haleyville Elementary School and this week the students returned from winter break.

“It has been a very difficult week. You do not know what to do. You don’t know what to say,” said Adrienne Curtis, one of Jacob’s teachers.

Arches are outside the school building in memory of the children. Bereavement counselors were on hand this week to help.

“It’s hard. The students don’t understand. We don’t understand. We know the best we can do is be there for the kids, to keep Annabelle’s memory alive,” said Brandi Crumpton, Annabelle’s homeroom and math teacher.

Crumpton said she doesn’t believe she will ever be able to fill the child seat that now sits empty in the classroom.

“Her hand was always up and she always had an answer and so I miss her eagerness, I miss her love of life,” Crumpton said.

Classmates released red balloons on Thursday morning. Red is Annabelle’s favorite color. Other family members, including the surviving father and husband, were on hand for the farewell.

“We also wanted to give the family the opportunity to share this with us to help them personally see how much their children will be loved and will continue to be loved and to help them as well,” said HES Director, Tammy Hatton.

There were lots of hugs and tears on Thursday. Loss is especially difficult for students.

“It was very difficult because we all miss her,” her classmate Audrey Phillips continued. “She was warm and she loved all the children.”

Jacob Evans was still in pre-K. The teachers said he was always a source of joy.

“Whenever he could run, he did. He was always so full of life and just a very sweet kid,” Curtis said.

Teachers hope Thursday’s balloon release will help students in the healing process.

“Annabelle was here one day, and we’re back from Christmas break and she’s not here and I just hope that by saying goodbye to her and letting those balloons go, they get some closure,” said Crumpton.

Neighbors raised money for fees and expenses through a local bank and a GoFundMe page.

Investigators believe the fire started near a wall-mounted gas heater in the living room.