The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 14, 2013

Home fire kills 4, hurts 2


The Associated Press

CHLOE — A woman and three children were killed Thursday and two men were severely burned when a fire broke out in a mobile home in Calhoun County, Deputy State Fire Marshal Reed Cook said.

Cook said the men were taken to Cabell-Huntington Hospital’s burn unit.

Media outlets reported that the four fatalities were a 57-year-old woman and her grandchildren, a 7-year-old boy, a 5-year-old girl and a 6-year-old girl, and the injured men were the children’s father and uncle.

The fire occurred around 5 a.m. Thursday on Mud Fork Road in the Chloe area.

Rhonda Tanner keeps cows in a pasture near the family’s home, a mobile home with rooms that were built on. Tanner said she often saw the children, whom she described as “absolutely adorable ... very pretty little kids.”

“When I heard this morning, I could have cried,” she said.

“They were cute as buttons. They’d holler out, ‘What you doing over there?”’ she said, recalling how she’d caution them to stay away from the bull. “They didn’t have much room to play, but they seemed happy.”

Tanner said the grandmother stayed at home to care for the children full time.

It was the second fire at the property, said Tanner, whose daughter is a local volunteer firefighter. About a year ago, a camper parked next to the home was destroyed.

Tanner said she didn’t know her neighbors well, and “they pretty well stayed off to themselves.”

Lois Cummings, who lives about a quarter-mile away, said she didn’t know them well, either, but called the grandmother “a sweet, sweet lady.”

“And the grandkids were awesome,” she said. “They were great neighbors. It’s a sad situation whenever a whole family gets killed like that.”

The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined, but assistant state fire marshal Mark Lambert said there were no signs of smoke detectors.

“We do tend to see more fires in the winter — often heat-related,” he said.

Lambert urged people to consider buying detectors to keep their families safe.