Friends, family gather in Milton-Freewater to mourn girl

Malani Meza, 6, died in a fire at her family's home earlier this month.

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Mari Meza is comforted during a memorial service at Stateline Community Church for her daughter Malani, who perished in a house fire this month.

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The Rev. Owen Frost speaks during Malani's service.

MILTON-FREEWATER - More than 200 people filled the sanctuary of Stateline Community Church, with another 50 people in the overflow area, as family, friends and community members attended a memorial service Saturday for Malani Meza.

The 6-year-old girl died in an early morning house fire on Oct. 19.

According to earlier reports, Meza's mother, Mari, was able to help four of her five children in the house at the time to evacuate.

But she could not get to Malani. And at Saturday's memorial, the mother still wore a bandage on her burned left hand.

During the service, "Amazing Grace" and "Blessed Assurance" were sung as family members consoled each other with embraces.

But it was the last song called for by the Rev. Owen Frost, who officiated the service, that seemed to evoke the most emotion.

As a classic children's song of faith was sung, the words to "Jesus Loves Me" resounded warm and clear.

The same could not be said for most eyes at that moment, and many were moved to tears.

After the service, a long line of family and friends wanting to give personal condolences wound its way around the aisles of the sanctuary, as close to 100 people greeted the immediate family with hugs.

The fire remains under investigation.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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