MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - People in a small community of Muhlenberg County tell us they're shocked and devastated after a house fire that killed a mother and eight of her children.
The father and another child were badly injured.
The loss of nine lives is tough for many to take, but it's especially for those at the Calvary Baptist Church, in Central City, that say they've watched this family grow up.
"I've been a member of this church many years, I've watched Chad grow up in this church as a little red-headed boy," said church member Jimmy Rayger.
"They were sweet hearts in the youth," said their pastor, Timothy Burden.
"They met here and fell in love and married," said Rayger.
Chad and Nikki Watson have called Calvary Baptist Church home for many years, and they'd spend their time in these pews.
"Those little children were in this church last Sunday walking around here, right up front here. Now, they're gone, they're just a memory," said Rayger.
A memory that is still weighing heavy on the hearts of many after learning an overnight fire took Nikki and eight of their nine children's lives. Only Chad and his 11-year old daughter Kylie survived.
"Each one contributed in their own way and we as a church have really grown to love this family," said Burden. "It's been a day trying to wrap your thoughts around this devastation."
This church is doing all it can to help a family that stood as an example in both actions.
"This family stood for is the love that they had for one another," said Burden.
And in teaching.
"He began a Sunday night study that's supposed to last five weeks about marriage and family," said Rayger. "It's hard for me to fathom right now. that he was speaking on that topic and lost his family, the biggest majority of them, this morning."
The church already has a special prayer vigil set for Friday at 7 p.m. Central Time.