The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office says a young boy is one of two people who died in a Queen Creek house fire Wednesday afternoon.
On Thursday, an MCSO spokesperson confirmed that 12-year-old Joshua Arnett died in the blaze at his home near Ellsworth and Ocotillo roads. Relatives identified the second victim as Josh's mom, 51-year-old Juliet Arnett.
"There is some comfort in knowing it was her and her little baby leaving all this behind together," said Jon Arnett, the oldest of Juliet's six children.
Arson investigators say the victims were alone in the house when the fire started after 4 p.m. Wednesday. Their bodies were found upstairs. Investigators say they are still trying to determine what sparked the flames and what prevented the two from escaping. Autopsies are scheduled.
Queen Creek school officials sent a letter to students and families on Thursday offering counseling to anyone that knew the Arnetts. Joshua, who had autism, was a fifth-grader at Queen Creek Elementary, administrators said.
"He loved getting hugs, and he loved anything shiny," Jon Arnett said. "We always laughed about how well he would jump and roll around and stuff. He was extremely limited vocally."
A GoFundMe account was set up for the family. According to the GoFundMe page, they did not have life or renters insurance and the money will go towards funeral expenses, a new home and other necessary items.
On Saturday morning at 9 a.m., there will be a pancake breakfast and walk for the family at Queen Creek High School. A T-shirt is also being sold to ramp up support for the family, and the Soda Shop will donating 30 percent of their proceeds at both locations Friday night from 5-11 p.m.
"My family is floored by the amount of support and love and generosity that we have experienced by so many members of our community," Jon Arnett said.