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Family shares their story of survival after father allegedly set their home on fire

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Posted at 5:49 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 19:13:49-04

MAMOU — Brittany Manuel and her three children, ages eight, six and three months old, escaped a deadly house fire on the morning of April 9th, with nothing left but the clothes on their backs.

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Brittany Manuel and her three children

State Fire Marshal's confirmed the origin of the fire was both inside the home and to a vehicle parked outside the home. They deemed the fire to have been set intentionally.

It is believed that the father of the three children, James Rozas, was the one who set the fire.

"I want to know why," says Manuel. "What was running through his head to make him want to do something like that... you're going to set your children's house on fire, and now they have no home, they have nothing."

Manuel believes that Rozas has been struggling mentally with anxiety and paranoia. She says she is always able to calm him down by talking with him, but on this evening, Manuel felt like something was different by the way he was acting.

"He was walking in and out of the house and I was getting really nervous with him coming back inside all sweaty and breathing heavy," says Manuel. "So I decided to go in the living room and start packing some things because something just told me that I should do that."

Hours passed and Manuel said that Rozas continued to act strange and finally, she began smelling smoke coming from the bathroom. There she found Rozas standing there setting the house on fire. Manuel says that she grabbed her children and ran outside to the neighbor's house to get help.

Manuel says that she will never forget the fear on her children's faces during that time.

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Brittany Manuel's three children

"They were scared to death," she says. "But they were just listening to mommy and what I was telling them to do, but they were also worried about their dad."

Brittany says that Rozas took off after they had fled to safety and called for help.

Rozas was later found and arrested wearing nothing but a black hoodie in Kinder. Officials say that he had stolen three vehicles in that time.

Read more about Rozas' arrest here.

A GoFundMe Account has been created by Manuel's sister, Dami Dietrich. To help the family you can visit that account here.
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