GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Funeral services were held February 15 for a mother and her two daughters who were killed in a house fire in Gwinnett County.
Brent Patterson told FOX 5 he lost his wife, Kathryn "Kathy" Patterson, and his two children, Kayla and Madeline, after a fire broke out at their Pointer Ridge home, which is near Tucker. Patterson told investigators he was upstairs with his family getting ready for bed when he heard a loud popping sound. The father went downstairs, saw the fire and yelled for his wife and daughters, ages 9 and 12, to get out.
"The father exited the home and realized that the others were unable to escape," Captain Tommy Rutledge said in a news release. "He made attempts to re-enter the home to save his family, but was forced back due to intense heat and flames."
Investigators said a neighbor tried to help the dad get inside the home, but wasn't successful. Patterson, who suffered burns, was treated and released by paramedics at the scene.
Captain Tommy Rutledge said the flames were too powerful for firefighters to enter the structure once they arrived. They were forced to battle the blaze from outside before being able to enter the home. The cause is still under investigation, but Patterson told investigators a fire was burning in the fireplace Tuesday evening around the time the house caught on fire.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the victims during this difficult time," the spokesperson for Gwinnett County Fire said on Wednesday.
The Patterson girls and their mother were active members of the Tucker First United Methodist Church, which is where their funeral was held. Patterson asked those who attended to wear pink or blue, his daughters' favorite colors.
"Kathy was a passionate mother and loved to dance. She was just a joy to be around. And those girls hugged everyone who came to church on Sundays. It won't be the same without them," said church member and friend Laurie Golding.
"They were the best family anyone could ever have," said Patterson.
"He's completely shattered as expected. We're here to give all the support we can give him," said Golding.
Golding said Kathy Patterson was a devoted mother, and had a passion to minister to the church through praise dancing.
"The girls were her whole life and she was full of life," Golding said. "She's now dancing in heaven with the girls."
Golding said numerous church members and community members who weren't part of the congregation came to pay their respects.
"When something like this happens in Tucker, it affects everybody," said one church member.
A gofundme account has been set up for the family: https://www.gofundme.com/pqe69fh3