A day after a South Akron fire claimed the lives of two young brothers, the children's parents called them ''irreplaceable.''
Trent Meador, 2, and Tyler Meeker, 7 months, died shortly after being pulled from a smoke-filled upstairs bedroom early Monday at their family's home on Victory Street.
''No two children could ever compare,'' said the boys' father, Duane ''D.J.'' Meeker, as he stood outside the burned house Tuesday. ''It's so hard to explain the loss and how two little kids who had so much potential and so much life are just gone.... They're irreplaceable.''
Meeker, 21, climbed through an upstairs window so he and his sons could escape the fire, but he couldn't find the boys in the thick smoke when he reached back for them. Meeker's wife, Melinda, 20, who discovered the fire downstairs, was able to rush out of the front of the house in time.
Akron Fire Lt. Al Bragg said the cause of the fire remains under investigation. Foul play is not suspected.
The fire started shortly before 8 a.m. Monday in the front room of the family's home. The flames were stopped before they could reach the upstairs where the boys were, but the smoke was heavy and the heat was intense, fire officials said.
The family was asleep upstairs when the smoke alarm sounded, waking Melinda Meeker, who rushed downstairs to see what was wrong. The woman, who is pregnant, screamed upstairs to her husband to hurry and grab the boys and leave the house.
When Duane Meeker tried to head downstairs with the boys, the smoke and heat drove him back, forcing him to try to escape through the window with his sons.
Neighbors, who heard the panicked father yelling that his sons were still upstairs, called 911. They were removed minutes later when firefighters arrived. But they were pronounced dead at Akron Children's Hospital a short time later.
The parents were treated for smoke inhalation at Akron General Medical Center.
Although the autopsies on the boys were done Tuesday, investigators with the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office said a ruling on their deaths won't come until later. Funeral arrangements are pending at Schermesser funeral home, the family said.
A benevolent fund was set up for the family at FirstMerit Bank. Contributions can be made at any branch.
On Tuesday, the street where the fire occurred was still. A card left in the front yard with other memorial items gave a peaceful request: ''Trent and Tyler, Hold onto one another through eternity.''
Inside the house, Duane Meeker looked through the rubble and found a bright reminder of his sons: matching red and black outfits with the No. 8 on them for NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The boys liked NASCAR.
''We were going to get their pictures taken in them this week,'' Melinda Meeker said.
Distributed by the Associated Press