Mother Who Died Trying to Save Family from House Fire Laid to Rest
Family members laid to rest a mother of four Thursday. Forty-five-year-old Jenny Soumountha Syonesa died in an early morning house fire in South Minneapolis. She was trying to save her two-year-old grandson and daughter-in-law.
The fire destroyed the family's rented home on First Avenue South. The fire started on the front porch but so far, that's all that's known for sure. Fire officials have listed the cause as "undetermined."
The investigation is now in the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. They've turned evidence at the scene over to a crime lab, and that analysis could take more than a month.
"We're all gathered here today to remember and give thanks to a wonderful woman," said 20-year-old Jeffrey Syonesa, one of three step-children Jenny considered to be her own. The funeral was held at Washburn McReavy Funeral Home on Penn Avenue North. Hundreds came. There were tears, and there was anger.
"Once she came into my life she became my big sister," said Jenny's sister-in-law Roz Syonesa, breaking into tears. "And now she's gone."
Jenny was a Laotian immigrant, and a newlywed who was married just three weeks ago to Sonny Syonesa. "To see them when they got married, it was probably the happiest I'd ever seen them," said Jeffrey.
Sonny rescued Jenny's 14-year-old daughter Victoria from the fire. She endured second and third degree burns."I smelled the smoke so I closed my eyes and held my breath while I was getting pulled (out her bedroom window)," said Victoria.
Jenny died trying to rescue her daughter-in-law Angela and her grandson Gabriel. He's still hospitalized, suffering from smoke inhalation. "We just ask for everybody's support and prayers that he'll be OK and come home soon," Roz said.
The family says the house had at least one smoke alarm but it didn't go off. They say they have no idea how the fire might have started.
Earlier this week KSTP learned the owner of the family's house has been twice cited for failing to properly register it as rental property. Without that registration, officials say the home hadn't been recently inspected for code violations or safety issues. At this point though, investigators say there's no link to that licensing issue, and the fire.
No matter what the investigation brings, Jenny's family says it ultimately doesn't matter -- because it won't bring Jenny back.
"Now the time has come for you to rest," said Jenny's other sister-in-law Kay Syonesa at the service. "I will carry your light and your spirit in me always."
Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at email@example.com