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Fire Department Releases Cause of Deadly Fire

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Photo: Video by kmtv.com

Fire Department Releases Cause of Deadly Fire

By Rebekah Rae. CREATED Dec 20, 2013 - UPDATED: Dec 20, 2013

Omaha, NE - Flames ripped through a trailer at the Maplewood Estates near 129th and Maple Streets Wednesday morning.

Gabriel Rodriguez, 3, and Brandon Rodriguez, 3-months-old, died in the fire.

Their mother, Champaine Harn, 18, was injured.

On Friday, teddy bears, Christmas trees and flowers sat under a layer of snow as this community struggled to understand why.

"It's still hard," said neighbor Brenda French. "It's still hard. We're all trying to pull together, but they're babies. They're all babies, and it's horrible."

For the third straight day, French came by the burned-out home.

"It's going to be a lot different here at the park," said French. "It's going to take a while for the community to get over."

On Friday, fire investigators released new information about the deadly blaze.

Investigators said the fire started in the living room, and it's highly probable that space heaters were the cause.

Neighbors told Action 3 News that most of the mobile homes have furnaces, but for whatever reason, this one didn't have one.

It was also lacking a working smoke detector. Investigators said there was one inside, but there were no batteries.

Tammy Salas, Harn's mother, said she was brought out of her medically induced coma Friday morning.

Harn was slowly opening her eyes and nodding her head, but still couldn't speak because of breathing tubes.

Thursday night Salas told Action 3 News she's been praying for strength.

"I need to be strong," said Salas. "How am I going to be able to help her if I'm sobbing myself? It's going to be hard to hold back the tears, but I got to stay strong."

The fire department said the causes of death will be released once autopsies are complete.

"It's almost Christmas, and their family just went through something that's going to take a long time," said French. "Even me, to smell the smoke and see the smoke, it's hard to sleep at night and not visualize it."

To help the family, donations can be dropped off at the Maplewood Estates front office, at a local fire station or at the Omaha Firefighters Credit Union. Champaine Harne works at Mercy Hospital. Coworkers have also set up a fund for the family. You can donate to that at any Creighton Federal Credit Union.