Friends and relatives of a Baltimore refugee couple who lost their two children in a fire late Friday were beginning to pool resources yesterday to offer them help.
Kibrom Fisesshai and his wife, Selam Neguse -- who fled civil war in their Eritrean homeland and spent four years in a Sudan refugee camp before reaching the United States -- lost not only their American-born children but virtually all of their possessions in the blaze.
The fire, blamed on fireplace sparks, burned out their Cape Cod-style home in the 5000 block of Parkton Street in Southwest Baltimore.
Mr. Fisesshai, who suffered severe cuts when he jumped through a window after trying to save the children, was recovering yesterday at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, with his condition listed as fair.
The friends and relatives were consoling Ms. Neguse at the home of a brother in Takoma Park.
"Everyone, if they have $10, if they have $20, they put it on the table," said Mebrat Tefazgi, a fellow Eritrean who met the couple in the Sudan. "But what price do you put on their children?" she asked.
A neighbor on Parkton Street said the family was warm, open and polite. She said that although Mr. Fesesshai was particularly hard-working, he seemed always to have a reserve of affection for his 6-year-old son, Philamon Kibrom, and 2-year-old daughter Hirmon Kibrom. The boy was a first-grader at Beechfield Elementary School.
"When he would come home at night, his boy would be waiting and he would rub him on the head and kiss him on the head," said Shirley Anne Toelle, the neighbor.