SHEBOYGAN — Chris and Kristi Maki, who lost three of their four children after a fire at their Sheboygan Falls home will speak publicly for the first time since the fire on Sunday, January 29th — just days after the one-year anniversary of this tragedy.
Eleven-year-old Natalie Martin and her two brothers, 10-year-old Benjamin Martin and seven-year-old Carter Maki died as a result of the fire that happened at their family home near 5th and Western in Sheboygan Falls on January 26th, 2016.
When crews arrived on scene, they made contact with Jenna, who was able to escape the home safely after being alerted by Natalie.
Authorities said Natalie Martin re-entered the home in an attempted to locate two other children — Benjamin and Carter.
Firefighters found heavy smoke pouring from the structure upon their arrival. They entered the home while attacking the fire — and then, with the help of thermal imaging cameras, located all three children in an upstairs room.
Carter Maki died at St. Nicholas Hospital. Natalie Martin was airlifted to Children’s Hospital — where she later died.
Benjamin Martin died days later at Children’s Hospital.
Nine-year-old Jenna Martin was able to get out of the home safely thanks to what is being described as the heroism of her big sister, Natalie.
“The nine-year-old girl was told to get out, by Natalie, who’s the oldest, to get out — and then (Natalie) ran back in to try to get the rest of them out,” a family spokesman said.
The family spokesman said nine-year-old Jenna was safe because Natalie was caring for her siblings while their parents, Chris and Kristi Maki, attended a church group meeting.
Natalie Martin was posthumously awarded the Carnegie Medal for her bravery.
Investigators determined the fire started in the basement playroom in an area under a light fixture next to a couch. One of the children discovered the fire, called out to her siblings and ran next door to call 911.
Chris and Kristi Maki will speak at Crossroads Community Church — the church that supported them during their time of need.
The church is located at 4101 Technology Parkway in Sheboygan and service times are 9:00 a.m. and 10:45 p.m.
If you cannot be there in person, the sermon will be streamed live HERE at 9:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.
The Maki family later donated the land where the house once sat to Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat officials are searching for a new family to live on that land, in an effort to bring happiness back to a place that once held so many memories.
Building won’t begin until a new family is selected for the property. Habitat officials expect to break ground in the summer of 2017.