Polygamous family with 17 children recovering from Dale City house fire

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A unique family that includes a husband and two wives and 17 children among them lost almost everything in a March 8 fire at their Dale City, Virginia, home.

Husband and father Mykal Coles said Tuesday the family is making do with two suites at an extended-stay hotel in Woodbridge – and trying to figure out how to rebuild their lives.

Firefighters were called to the family’s home in the 6100 block of Oust Lane the afternoon of March 8, where they found all occupants out of the house and a fire in a second-floor bedroom.

The blaze was started by a candle in a bedroom igniting bedding, fire investigators said. Coles said one of his wives was cleaning and the three-wick Bath and Body Works candle sparked a flame out of the top that hit the rug and mattress.

There are dozens of news reports online about similar fires caused by the same type of candle, but Bath and Body Works has said the candles are tested and safe if properly used.

The four-bedroom, 2.5-bath home, which the family had been renting for over two years, sustained moderate fire damage, but barely anything was salvageable. The family had also created a fifth bedroom in the 2,087-square-foot house.

“This is my family and I work hard to take care of them,” said Coles, who works as a special police captain for a firm providing security to an embassy in Washington and drives for Lyft part time. “What we didn’t lose to fire, we lost to smoke damage, and what we didn’t lose to smoke damage, we lost to water damage.”

The family did not have renter’s insurance. Coles said he inadvertently let it lapse after switching auto insurance companies.

The Coles family of Dale City lost their home and most of their belongings in a fire on March 8, 2024.

Unique family situation

Coles is legally married to his first wife, Alicia, and is in a common-law marriage with his second wife, Jasmine. He’s been married to Alicia for 20 years and committed with Jasmine for 14, he said.

The family has 17 children ranging in age 9 months to 21 years – seven boys and 10 girls. The younger children attend Prince William County Public Schools. The parents all work, but the fire dealt a financial blow.

“It’s been a really humbling experience for me,” Coles said.

A family friend has established a GoFundMe campaign to help the Coleses get back on their feet. The American Red Cross has helped with some immediate needs, but the family needs a new rental home, new furniture, new clothes – basically everything.

Coles said he knows his family situation raises some eyebrows, leading people to often say things that aren’t true.

“I get a lot of flack, like we must be on assistance,” he said. “We’re not on assistance; we all work, we have decent salaries. I’m not ashamed of my family. We’re starting over here.”

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