WAUBAY, S.D. (KELO) — Family and friends are mourning the loss of a 3-year-old boy after a fire at an apartment building in Waubay.
Crews were called to a four-plex in town Monday evening where two of the units were engulfed in flames — one of them occupied by the LaBelle family.
Azariah LaBelle was one of the three boys that were home with their mom when the fire started.
The family just celebrated his third birthday on Sunday.
“He was the sweetest boy. His voice was so sweet. Everything about him was so sweet. Out of nowhere, he would come up and kiss me on the cheek just because he wanted or, you know, give me a hug. His favorite thing was to watch YouTube videos, so when I’d give him the phone to watch it, his response all the time, ‘I love you mom. I love you,'” Azariah’s mom Jessica LaBelle said.
Azariah’s mom Jessica LaBelle says panic set in after the fire started.
“My older boys, they were already, they seen my panic and they ran towards the door and I was unlocking the door and I got them out, made them go outside. I turned around to find my baby and I went into the back room where he was. I opened the door. By that time, the flames just bursted, they got huge and I tried to put it out with water from my mop bucket and everything and that was not helping,” Jessica said.
Jessica went outside and tried getting in through a window, but the flames and smoke made it impossible to get to her little boy.
“I felt so helpless and it felt like so long for the people to get there to help,” Jessica said.
Crews were able to put the fire out, but the building is heavily damaged — however, this loss is no comparison to losing a loved one.
“I tell everybody I don’t know how to go on with my life without him. He was my life. He was my world. I don’t know what to do,” Jessica said.
“He was the sweetest, most perfect, precious baby you could ever meet. I’ve never met a baby more sweet than him,” Azariah’s aunt Carla LaBelle said.
Azariah’s aunt Carla LaBelle set up a GoFundMe for the family.
“We are so grateful. We are so thankful to everybody that did help and support. Even if it was just a prayer. Everything helps,” she said.
“I honestly didn’t expect this much support from everybody, and I’m surprised at how much my community has come to support me. It means a lot,” Jessica said.
The Division of Criminal Investigation and state fire marshal are investigating the fire.
They did have a prayer service for Azariah Wednesday night.
If you would like to help the family, you can visit this GoFundme.