Last month, Dawn Feick and her family planned a funeral for her 72-year-old mother. Friday, they planned two more funerals, choosing caskets for 10-year-old Charles and 5-year-old Joshua, her sons.
The two, half of the boys Dawn and her husband, Charles, were raising, died Thursday in a fire touched off by a candle in their Gambrills home.
"They lost everything -- the house, two boys," said Frank Tilley, a relative of the family. "I can't imagine the grief that they're going through. It hasn't been an easy summer."
At the Tilley house in Laurel, where the Feicks and their surviving sons, John, 8, and Stephen, 7, are staying, a blue and white silk corsage was hung on a porch post Friday.
Family members sat solemnly around a table off the kitchen while the shrieks of children playing in another room sounded through the house.
Dawn and Charles Feick were out arranging funerals.
Family members said the boys' father broke down at the funeral home when he was asked to pick two caskets.
He was hoping to bury the brothers together, the same way they died.
According to neighbors and fire officials, the brothers were asleep together in the master bedroom, being comforted by their mother during the early part of Thursday's storm, when the fire broke out.
The flames ignited a bed in a front room of their duplex home shortly before 4 a.m. and quickly filled the rooms with toxic smoke, fire officials said.
The boys' father was at work at Giant Food in Landover. By the time the mother got two of the boys out of the house, the smoke was too heavy to go back. A neighbor also tried to rescue the other boys. Firefighters, who got them out of the house, could not revive them.
The family had been using candles since Wednesday because their electricity had been turned off for nonpayment, according to fire officials and a spokeswoman with Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.
"We discourage using candles for light" when electricity is off, said Chief John Scholz, Anne Arundel Fire Department spokesman. "We say use battery-operated flashlights."
Neighbors in the community of fenced-in front yards spent Thursday evening and Friday without electricity as a result of the storm. The dangers of open flames in the house were all too apparent in the charred remains of a twin mattress, burned books and a plastic car heaped in the Feicks' front yard.
"We had one candle going last night, and she watched it the whole time," said neighbor Patti Thorne, referring to her daughter, 9-year-old Stephanie Shoap. "I said it's OK. I wanted her to know it wasn't their fault."
Getting a point across
Nearly every car that drove by the Feicks' house Friday slowed.
Some people stopped to talk to the Neveroskis, the neighbors who shared the duplex. Others pointed as they drove by.
"You wish you could erase it from your mind, but you can't," Frank Neveroski said.
"You see that?" he said as a woman in a minivan drove by, the heads of the children in the rear seats turning to see the burned house.
"She might be telling them, 'See, don't play with fire,' " Neveroski said. "She might be getting a point across."
Visitation is today from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Donaldson Funeral Home, 313 Talbott Ave. in Laurel. The boys will be buried at 11 a.m. tomorrow.
Neighbors are collecting money to help the family with funeral expenses. Donations may be made to Washington Savings Bank in the Odenton Shopping Center, 1163 Annapolis Road, Odenton 21113.
Pub Date: 9/19/99