Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/23/2009 06:26:07 PM PDT
RIALTO - The grieving mother of two young brothers who died from injuries suffered in a house fire has transformed the charred and vacant home into a haunted house for Halloween.
"This is the way I'm coping with the loss of my two kids," said Viviana Delgado, 27. "It's my way of saying happy Halloween to my kids."
On May 29, Mario Cisneros, 5, and his 3-year-old brother, David Cisneros, were overcome by smoke and heat in a bathroom inside the burning home in the 1400 block of North Lilac Avenue, where 11 family members lived.
Mario, David and a puppy were found unconscious after they got lost while crawling behind their grandmother to escape the flames. The boys were transported to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center
"People don't know what I'm going through. They don't know how I feel," said Viviana Delgado, 27, on hosting a haunted house at the home where her sons died because of a fire. "This is how we're going to spend our Halloween together." Delgado is planning a neighborhood haunted house at the property to remember and honor her children.
in Colton, where they died at 1:22 a.m. The puppy also died.
Only five family members were home when the fire ignited, including the boys' grandfather and a 1-year-old cousin, Jasmine Reyes.
Delgado said often in the middle of the night, she visits the home and sits in the front yard, remembering her boys.
A faint smell of smoke emanates from the gutted home, where Delgado has wrapped a wrought-iron fence with a faux spider web.
To the casual observer, the front yard looks like the home of a family celebrating the season. A closer look shows the handiwork of a broken-hearted mother.
Between monsters and frightful signs, a planter is filled with trinkets of boyhood - a scooter, a toy tractor and
two plastic buckets, each adorned with a photograph of a brother. A crucifix sits in the midst of stuffed animals.
Delgado has transformed the scene of every mother's fear into what some neighbors consider a macabre memorial.
Two tombstones loom in the grass.
"It's not cool," said Harry Cass, 49. "I disagree with it."
But Delgado said it's her way of honoring the good times she had with her boys, including past Halloweens.
She will invite visitors to walk the hall where her sons once crawled under the choking smoke. A doll with a clown's face is affixed to one door. It might spook visitors, she said. For effect, there will be Halloween music and flashing lights.
"Since it's a haunted house, it has to be some kind of scary," she said.
On Friday morning, a wand of sunlight shone through blackened studs that stood tall above scorched and scattered mementos.
A set of keys rested on the floor, and swept into one corner was a pile of photos, a cereal box and a framed painting of the Last Supper.
A sign hanging in front advertises the haunted house. It will be open this weekend and next. Delgado isn't sure she will charge for entry or take donations, although a sign says $3.
One person confronted her when she handed out fliers for the house.
"People don't know what I'm going through, they don't know how I feel," she said. "This is how we're going to spend Halloween together."
Delgado's type of grieving is OK as long as it's legal, said Michael R. Lewin, associate professor of psychology at Cal State San Bernardino.
"You have to honor someone's individual way of mourning," Lewin said. "Some people mourn the loss of a child by never changing a room (where the child stayed)."
But Lewin is concerned for children who would visit the house.
"I'm not criticizing her for honoring her children in this way," he said. "But parents have to exercise caution in determining whether this is appropriate, because it might scare them and lead to nightmares and worry about fire and children dying."
Delgado said she isn't worried about urban legends springing up over the house.
Nor is she concerned about code violations. Delgado said an unnamed person in the city's Planning Department told her it was fine as long as the house hadn't been "red-tagged."
"When you red-tag a structure, it states that it is unsafe to enter a building," said Bob Watson, supervising building and safety officer.
Watson said the person who would have red-tagged the house is retired, and he would investigate the matter today.Regardless, Delgado plans to hand out candy there, even if the haunted house is shut down.
"This is what makes me at peace," she said.
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