Family gathers for funeral of 4 young fire victims

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A Louisville family grieving for four
children who died from injuries in a July Fourth house fire was
surrounded by supporters Thursday, including a pastor who recounted
his own similar tragedy and declared that "God is a mender of the

"I know the pain. I know the grief. I know the hurt," the Rev.
William G. Nelson said at the emotion-drenched funeral for the two
sets of young brothers who were among six victims of the pre-dawn

The fire Saturday claimed the lives of 7-year-old Anthony
Seargent; his 5-year-old brother Amarion; and their cousins:
3-year-old Anton Seargent and his 10-month-old brother Ashton. Two
adults also died in the fire: Gabrial Johnson and Brandon Nellom,
both 21.

Nelson, among several pastors seeking to comfort the family,
said he lost three of his own children in a 1991 house fire. Nelson
said the Seargent family needs to know that "God can and will wipe
tears from their eyes. They need to know that God is a mender of
the brokenhearted.

"You're looking at a witness who has experienced what you've
experienced," he said. "And yes, the pain still comes. In 18
years, I still hurt. I still cry. But I'm glad to know that God is
still mending my heart, God is still wiping away my tears."

The children's coffins lined the front of the chapel at G.C.
Williams Funeral Home. An organist played "Jesus Loves the Little
Children" as mourners filed in, and Bible passages with references
to children were read.

Charles Seargent Jr., the four children's grandfather, thanked
the community for its prayers and support, and said his
grandchildren "are in a better place."

"We're never going to let them go in our hearts," he said.

Louisville fire officials say nine people were either on the
first floor or in the basement of the two-story house when the fire
broke out early Saturday. Two adults and one child survived.

Sgt. Salvador Melendez, a spokesman for Louisville Fire and
Rescue, has said it could take weeks for investigators to determine
what caused the blaze.

Investigators are trying to find out what happened to a
first-floor smoke detector installed in the house just over a year
ago by fire and rescue personnel as part of a home inspection and
fire prevention program. Melendez has said previously that the
first-floor detector was "nowhere to be found."

He has said investigators found a working smoke detector on the
second floor, but the people in the house apparently didn't hear it
because a door to the upper floor was closed.

Heavy smoke and fire were pouring from the first floor when fire
trucks arrived.

The blaze happened on the 20th anniversary of another horrific
house fire in Louisville that claimed the lives of six children
from multiple families.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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