COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) — While the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation looks into a suspicious fire, a community is mourning the loss of a Columbia mother of three who died in the blaze.

After an autopsy, the TBI recently identified the victim of that fire as 29-year-old Michelle Renee Sparks Jr. — the mother of 3 young children.

Wednesday night will mark one week since Sparks died.

The house on Paul Craft Street is now boarded up. Outside on the sidewalk, there are candles burning and flowers paying tribute to a woman who died too soon.

Tae Fleming remembered Michelle Renee Sparks Jr. as a good woman and good mother.

“My son played with those little girls, she has three beautiful little girls. And honestly, all she did was take care of her kids and do hair on the side, she always worked, and she did hair, she was a hairstylist,” Fleming said.

News 2 obtained footage from the inferno the night of July 13. The video shows Columbia Fire and Rescue attacking the bedroom window where flames are shooting into the night sky.

It’s in that room the 29-year-old was found dead.

When neighbors first saw the smoke and flames, many were worried Sparks might be trapped inside.

Before firefighters arrived, residents broke out windows and kicked in doors, yelling for people to get out.

When nobody responded, residents initially believed perhaps nobody was home, but when firefighters emerged with a dead dog, they began to feel the worst.

Then the terrible news came that the mother of three was home alone and was found dead.

Latasha Cooper lives across the street. She knew Michelle Sparks Jr. as a quiet woman. When the fire started, she was one of many neighbors who rushed to the home.

“She was a nice woman, never messed with anyone. She was sweet. She was really sweet,” Cooper said. “Nobody deserves that, nobody. We are the ones who discovered the fire and went into the house.”

Thankfully, none of her three children were home at the time of this inferno.

“Like everyone in the community came together and went into the house looking for those kids because we thought those kids were in that house. Man, that was the most horrific thing ever,” Cooper added.

Now the house is boarded up and the sidewalk is lined with flowers and candles — a tribute to a life taken much too soon.

Cooper said the neighborhood wants answers.

“Why? That woman had three kids. Like, come on, why?” she pleaded.

The night of the fire, a car disappeared from the residence. It was later found in Columbia at a church. The car is now at the TBI crime lab. The significance of the car is still not known.

Cooper told News 2 that residents saw the car leaving prior to the fire being called in.

⏩ Find more Top Stories from

“Nobody deserves that. Nobody at all,” Cooper said.