EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — The mother of five children killed in an East St. Louis apartment fire was charged with child endangerment on Wednesday.
Sabrina Dunigan, 34, was charged with five felony counts of endangering the life of a child resulting in death. The charges stem from an apartment fire in the early morning hours of Aug. 6.
The fire broke out after 3 a.m. on N 29th Street near State Street. Five children between the ages of 1 and 9 were inside at the time of the fire. Four of the children were pronounced dead at the scene of the fire and the fifth later died at the hospital.
Relatives identified the children as: 20-month-old Loy'El, 4-year-old Jabari, 8-year-old twins Nevaeh and Heaven and 9-year-old Dontae.
The children's mother was not home at the time, according to Assistant Fire Chief George McClellan with the East St. Louis Fire Department. She had left to pick up another adult from work. When she returned, she went back inside the unit several times to try to rescue her children, McClellan said.
Shortly after the fire, family members identified the mother her as Sabrina Dunigan and told 5 On Your Side this wasn't the first time she has been the victim of a house fire. In 2019, she and her five children were displaced by a fire at their East St. Louis home.
At the time of that 2019 fire, she told reporters and investigators that she thought the fire was set by her boyfriend.
"We're just telling him he has to leave, and he said he was gonna set the house on fire," she said back in 2019.
On Friday, family members said of the 2019 fire, "that case was settled."