GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Police have released the names of the woman and child who died after a large house fire in downtown Grand Rapids.
Jaqueline “Jackie” Baber-Bey, 65, and her 5-year-old great-grandson Emareyon Cummings, who also went by EJ, were killed in the Saturday morning fire at a home on Sheldon Street SE.
Grand Rapids fire officials told News 8 Baber-Bey died at the scene. EJ died after being taken to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for treatment.
The pastors at local church Madison Church: Ford Campus told News 8 Baber-Bey was an elder at the church and had been part of the congregation since the 1980s.
On Sunday, the church paid tribute to their lives in place of their normal online worship service.
“Early Saturday morning we received the news that a beloved Madison matriarch elder Jackie Baber-Bey and her 5-year-old great-grandson, EJ, died in a house fire at her home on Sheldon Street,” said one of the pastors.
“She’s been a beacon of hope to so many of us in this congregation and her steadfast trust in the Lord has been a guide for us as a church family,” the pastors went on to say.
The fire happened in the 500 block of Sheldon Avenue SE near Logan Street SE around 9 a.m. Saturday, fire officials said.
A neighbor called in the fire and when emergency responders arrived, they found the house engulfed in smoke and flames.
“It’s just heartbreaking to hear such news,” said Vanessa Eppes, a neighbor who lives nearby.
Assistant Fire Chief Brad Brown said every fire station in the city was called in to work on this fire and the departments were back-filled by surrounding departments, including Plainfield and Kentwood. At least 50 firefighters were on scene to fight the flames.
“We have heavy damage and we have experienced some collapses both in the structure and exterior,” Brown said.
Two firefighters were treated after overheating at the scene, according to GRFD. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The home where the fire happened was also the scene of a double homicide last year. In March 2019, 47-year-old Cherletta Baber-Bey and 25-year-old Keyona Griffin were found shot to death. The two were Baber-Bey’s daughter and granddaughter.
News 8 did attempt to contact family of Baber-Bey for interview. They could not be immediately reached. News 8 is still working to learn more about the two fire victims.