As the community remembers those lives lost in a tragic Pendleton house fire, one man mourns the death of his three children from behind bars.
PENDLETON, OR - The fire that destroyed a Pendleton home just over a month ago is nothing but tragic. It claimed the lives of five different people, three of them being kids. As the community remembers those lives, one man mourns the death of his three children from behind bars.
"The first word I describe Evan with would be mischievous. His laugh was very contagious," explained Robert Harvey, the father of the three now deceased children. "Rowan...he understood me in ways that I don't think any human ever has before or ever will. Tons of love for my boys...they were my boys...you know proud dad."
Harvey is currently serving a 20-month prison term at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution. He pleaded guilty to theft charges after not paying for over $2,000 worth of car parts. The day after he was arrested, his daughter Annabelle was born. He never met her.
"Annabelle, I got to hear her laugh for the first time my last phone call to them. There's not many things that give you freedom in here and a child's laughter is definitely one of them. They tell me she didn't suffer, so that's a good thing."
Harvey says he feels responsible. He has fought wildfires in the past and thinks if he had been there, maybe his kids would still be alive.
"Tragedy is what it is. It took their life, but I'm not going to sit here and let it be for nothing."
For starters, Harvey is telling their story, hoping that if he can encourage people to take fire safety precautions and make fire plans with their families he could save lives. He says the nightmares of the inside of a burning home mixed with the dreams of his babies faces make him stronger every day. When he gets out of prison, Harvey wants to become a certified structure firefighter and he will jump through every hoop to make it happen, all the while thinking of his kids.
"Living for them when they were alive was one thing. Now that they're gone, living for them is a whole new different meaning. Basically in my mind my life is over and starts with us."
NBC Right Now spoke with Harvey's ex-girlfriend Kay Williams, the mother of the three children, but she said she was not in a state to speak on camera. She did want to say that she is grateful and amazed by the large community support that Pendleton has offered.