Vigil held for Clay community to process fire tragedy


    Nearly 100 people turn out Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil in front of the Clay County Courthouse. (WCHS/WVAH) <p>{/p}

    It was an emotional night in Clay County as the community came together for a candlelight vigil to remember four children killed in a house fire over the weekend.

    About 100 people came out for the candlelight vigil in front of the Clay County Courthouse. Songs were sung, candles were lit and tears shed.

    "It's such a hard thing to process," Jasmine Norton of Clay said. "Little babies losing their lives so soon."

    Family and friends came to remember the 3, 4 and 8-year-old girls and a 6-month-old boy who died Saturday night in a house fire. Three adults and a 2-year-old child were able to get out of the home with minor injuries.

    The vigil was put on by Clay County Assessor Teresa Davis. She said she felt the community needed to come together and heal. She started planning the vigil Sunday night. Clay County Commission President Greg Fitzwater began the vigil by thanking all the first responders for their hard work over the weekend and keeping the community safe. Several pastors from the area also spoke at the vigil.

    "I know we're trying to be brief tonight and that is easy to do because we have no words," Pastor Brett Wiley of Fairview Baptist Church said.

    Wiley, along with three other pastors, told the crowd to keep love and hope in their hearts throughout these dark days. Following the pastors, the community sang songs, including" Amazing Grace."

    "It's very emotional, but everyone coming together like this is our way of coping," Norton said.

    As this devastated community slowly processes what happened, many people said this tragedy has given them a different outlook.

    "We didn't know the children personally, but it still hits home when you have little ones," Betty Grandee of Clay County said. "Makes you love them a little tighter when something like this happens in your town."

    Brent Deboard, a father of a new baby girl, said since hearing the tragic news all he wants to do is hold her. "I just wanted to hold her in my arms and keep her safe. She is my everything."

    As community members continue to mourn, they are coming together and raising money. County officials said two funds have been set up at the Clay County Bank. One fund is for the homeowners and foster parents, Trevor and Katie Neff, and the other fund is for the deceased children, to help cover the cost of headstones.

    Donations can be made to Clay County Bank, P.O. Box 239, Clay, WV, 25043 or by calling 304-587-4221.

    Officials have not yet released the names of the four children.

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