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Fatal western Ky. fire began with material against heater

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GREENVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky State Police say a fire that killed 9 people started accidentally with combustible material against an electric baseboard heater in a bedroom.

Trooper Stu Recke said the fact that all the victims were found in a master bedroom could be an indication that they were trying to escape through a window, but investigators aren't sure.

Eight children and their mother died in the fire in Greenville in the western part of the state, while the father and an 11-year-old girl escaped with injuries.

"It's hard to believe that the whole families wiped out like that," Clarence Humphrey who lives right next door told WKYT's Sean Moody. "I knew some of the little kids. Little redheaded blue-eyed boys."

Humphrey heard sirens shortly after the fire broke out about 2 a.m. CST in the Depoy community of Muhlenberg County.

"I saw that house engulfed in flames, and I knew 11 people live there. And I thought to myself they're not getting out. And you know what happened nine of them didn't," said Humphrey. "You're standing there helpless and can't do a thing. That's the hardest part. Not being able to do anything."

Autopsies on the remains of the family members were started Thursday afternoon.

The victims are indentifed as:
Nikki Watson, age 35
Madison Watson, age 15
Kaitlyn Watson, age 14
Morgan Watson, age 13
Emily Watson, age 9
Samuel Watson, age 8
Raegan Watson, age 6
Mark & Nathaniel Watson, 4 year-old twins

The father and daughter who survived the fire and are at a hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. They have been identified as 36 year-old Chad Watson and 11 year-old Kylie Watson. Hospital officials tell WKYT the two are critical but stable.

WKYT's Jordan Vilines spoke to the family's pastor who is at the father's bedside in Nashville. He says they will hold a prayer vigil Friday night for the family at Calvary Baptist Church in Central City. The public is invited to attend. The vigil will get underway at 7 p.m. CST.

A fund for the family has been set up at the Old National Bank in Greenville. Donations can be made out to the Calvary Baptist Church Watson Fund.

The bodies will be transported from the scene to Madisonville, where they will undergo an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.


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