Q13 FOX Season of Giving

Family mourns 3-year-old boy who died in Tacoma duplex fire

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TACOMA, Wash. -- A 3-year-old boy was killed in a duplex fire in Tacoma Wednesday.

Tacoma police say the fire started Wednesday afternoon in the 6400 block of South Tyler Street. Police say witnesses drove by and saw flames shooting out of the duplex.

Police say witnesses knocked on the door and that others inside were able to safely make it out of the home. Firefighters found the body of a child inside.

The boy's grandmother later confirmed to Q13 News that the deceased child, Nehemiah Bonds, was 3 years old.

Family members said the mother of the little boy they called "Nemo" was napping with him when she awoke to thick, black smoke. His mom couldn't find him and had to get out of the house, family members said. One of Nemo's aunts said she tried to go back inside to save him.

"I was trying to go inside and I understand that's not right and they didn't want me to get hurt," said Shajuanda Tate.

Tacoma Fire said officers didn't know if the home has a working smoke detector and said it's too early to tell what sparked the fire.

"He will be truly missed," said another aunt, Nichole Johnson. "He was a very happy little boy, loved to play, love to be out. He's just like the perfect thing you could ever ask for, and I'm gonna miss him."

Fire officials say the blaze was extinguished at about 4:30 p.m. and that three units were heavily damaged.

Nehemiah's mother was transported to the hospital for evaluation and seven people were displaced, Tacoma Fire said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.