Family overcomes devastating vehicle fire

Family overcomes devastating vehicle fire

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It's been 10 years to the day since four little boys were caught inside a burning car near Georgetown.

They've become known as the Bigelow brothers. None of them were expected to survive that November night, but a decade later, with the help of an entire community, they are very much alive and getting stronger each day.

"It would've been so easy for us to fall," said Roni Bigelow, the mother that knows a thing or two about challenges. On November 12, 2002, Bigelow loaded her four boys up in the family van, she ran back inside of their Georgetown apartment for just a few seconds. That was when one of the boys found a cigarette lighter. Moments later the family van was engulfed in flames.

"None of them were supposed to survive," she said.

A fire that burned for two and a half minutes has taken a decade and possibly more for her family to overcome.

"I had to be strong enough to pick them up mentally and emotionally," Bigelow said.

She knows what people are thinking when they see the scars from severe burns on each of her sons.

"They stare and they say things that they don't mean," she said.

Over the past decade, Brandon, Justin, and Sean have each endured multiple surgeries and physical therapy. Eleven-year old Sean and 14-year old Brandon have had the most surgeries and have more to go.

As Sean continues to grow, his skin will have to be surgically stretched. Because of the severe burns his skin will not naturally stretch with growth.

However it's not the scars on the outside that hurt so much. It's the ones left behind that you don't see that can be so painful.

"I remember basically all of it," said Brandon Bigelow. Brandon was 7 when the fire occurred. It's now the 'what if's' that haunt the 17-year old.

"Now that I look back I mean I tell myself what if I did do something to prevent it. It could have been a whole lot different in our lives," said Brandon.

Each of the boys continues to undergo counseling. The Bigelow family spends many nights gathered around the TV for movies and video games, just like any other family. And just like the other boys their age, each of them dream big.

"I'm able to see my boys growing up and being who they are," said Roni.

Each said they plan to go to college. Sean wants to be an engineer; Justin plans to be a video game designer; Jerry wants to go into the army; and Brandon is facing the past head on.

"Nothing will change my mind of becoming a firefighter," he said.

The Bigelows attribute much of their success to the hundreds of volunteers who've been there for them over the past decade.

"A lot of people are there," said Jerry Bigelow, aged 16.

"The best thing that has happened to me is meeting all of these new people," said Sean Bigelow, aged 11.

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