Two nights before Christmas, firefighter James M. Rice perished in a burning apartment in Peabody, Massachusetts, home to 38 weeks pregnant Lisa Jaber and her 8-year-old daughter Jayla. After giving birth to a second daughter this week, Jaber has decided to name the newborn in honor of the brave firefighter who left the world shortly before her baby entered it.
The mother told The Boston Globe Friday that she has named her 7-pound, 9-ounce baby girl Bella Rice Jaber, “because he risked his life to save our house, and it just felt right, so I dedicated her name toward him and his family.’’
Lisa was at a doctor's appointment when the fire broke out, and did not learn of the tragic news about Rice until hours later. On December 29, more than a thousand mourners waited outside a funeral home in the cold before they had the opportunity to pay their respects at the wake for the 42-year-old father of three young children. Lisa tells Fox 25 that it was at Rice's funeral where she first got the idea of how to honor the fallen firefighter:
Jaber told The Globe that she saw Rice's family at his funeral, but did not speak to them.
"I didn’t want to impose on them to say 'Hey it’s me.' (The funeral) was very touching. I cried a lot. My heart went out for his family -- especially his children."
The building where the Jaber family lived has been called a total loss by inspectors, and The Globe reports that 13 people were displaced by the fatal fire. The Jabers lost nearly everything they had, and spent Christmas in a hotel room with hundreds of donated gifts to replace the ones lost in the fire.
Fox 25 reports that investigators believe the fire was the result of an electrical issue.