GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) - The entire Gloucester community is mourning after a fire Jan. 16 took the lives of three children and a grandmother.
Virginia Grogan ran back into her burning home on Summerville Drive to try and save her grandchildren, Tommy, 7, Michael, 2, and infant Gabriel. None of them made it out alive.
Tommy's classmates at Bethel Elementary School are remembering him with cards and notes, while counselors and psychologists are on hand to help them handle the grief.
"We had a couple parents, who didn't know at all, who were very upset," said Shannon Auche, Assistant Principal at Bethel Elementary. "And, we had a few that busted into tears."
Auche spent the last two days sitting in Tommy's second grade class to see how the children are doing.
"It just tore your heart apart because we just listened to them talk about silly nicknames he had for his classmates," she said. "And every minute there was a 'He did this, he did that,' and they really thought he was funny."
They say Tommy was small for his age but had a big personality. Auche misses his presence in the halls.
"There are always a few that stand out, and he was very short, very cute, always smiling, just a little character," she said.
For many students, this is the first time they have had to deal with death and grief. Many chose to make cards for the Grogan family to show they cared. And when they were done, it almost seemed as if Tommy was in the room, telling his friends what to do.
"Nobody told them what to do with them, but they instinctively went over and put them on his desk," said Auche.
What the fire took can never be replaced. But, sometimes tragedies have a way of bringing out the best in communities, and Gloucester is determined to be that example.
"They're too good to have something like this happen," said Auche.
Officials believe it was an electrical fire that started near a space heater. The official cause has not been released.
The family is in need of prepared meals and clothing. The donations can be dropped off at Bellamy United Methodist Church in Gloucester.
Click here to see other drop off locations.
There will be a candlelight vigil for the family Friday night at 7 p.m. behind the Hardee's in Gloucester.
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