48-year-old grandmother killed, 5-year-old grandson injured in Tacoma apartment fire

TACOMA -- Investigators still don’t know what started the  fire in a Tacoma apartment that killed a grandmother and sent her 5-year-old grandson to the hospital.

The fire broke out Monday morning  in a unit at the Pacific Point Apartments on S. 84th Street.

“My mom is my best friend, you know, my best friend,” said Jakeya Roberson, holding back tears.

Firefighters say her mother, 48-year-old Deneen Evans, died after a fire tore through her Tacoma apartment.  Evans’ grandson, Omaj, survived, but was injured and rushed to Seattle's Harborview Medical Center.

“She got taken because she was protecting her grandson," Roberson said. "She knew that if she didn’t, he would be gone, too. And she knew we wouldn’t be able to handle it.”

When flames broke out, neighbor Maeu Paita said he tried to get into the apartment.

“When I kicked the door down, I couldn’t see anything, it was so smoky.”

He had no idea Evans and her grandson were inside.

“When we called in there, nobody answered. So we thought there was nobody in there.”

Paita said he didn’t know Evans, but he had just talked to her grandson on Sunday.

“To find out he was the one in there, I feel bad.”

Roberson said her nephew is now in stable condition at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center and will be OK. But she wants to know how the fire started, and if her family could have been spared this tragedy. Firefighters have boarded up her mother’s apartment while investigators search for those answers.

“I want to go down there," she said. "Because if I don’t, I’m not going to understand.”

But she said she will make sure her kids and her nephew know how special their grandmother was.

“She proved to me what she always told me, that I’m going to protect you guys until the day I die.”

Roberson’s sister had been visiting family out of town, which is why Omaj had been staying with his grandmother. She is now with her son, as he recovers at Harborview.