SAN DIEGO -- A Mount Hope family is doing all it can to support a little boy and his sister after they were severely burned in a fire that killed their older brother.
Just after midnight on Nov. 30, a fire broke out at a home in the 4200 block of J Street. Neighbors broke windows in their attempts to help three children and two adults -- a babysitter and her boyfriend -- escape the burning single-story house, fire officials said.
Despite the Good Samaritans' efforts and those of emergency crews, 12-year-old Fernando "Nano" Castro died inside the residence. He died of thermal and inhalation injuries, the San Diego County Medical Examiner determined.
The boy's younger brother and sister -- 5-year-old Luis Jr. and 3-year-old Esmeralda -- were rescued and taken to the hospital with severe injuries. Their grandfather told 10News they were in medically induced comas with burns on their bodies.
As of Monday, the siblings remain hospitalized in critical, but stable, condition at UC San Diego Medical Center. Their mother is constantly at their side as both children face a long and painful recovery.
Family members are planning to put together a collage of the good times they had before the tragedy.
Angelina Marquez, the children's aunt, told 10News, "It's hard. He [Fernando] was a kid with autism, unfortunately; he was our favorite. Sounds bad, but autistic children, they're special. They are different. Now that he's gone, it's going to be tough."
Marquez said of the children's mother: "She's being optimistic. She looks at the little one, says they're really fighters. They got out of there. They're going to be fine."
A fundraiser was held over the weekend to help raise money for the Nunez-Castro family. A GoFundMe page was created, and there've been many donations of clothes and other items.
Family members say they are very appreciative of the outpouring of support.
A memorial for Fernando is planned for Dec. 19 at the Jacobs Center. It will include several activities to boost awareness about fire dangers and autism.