Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

February 1, 2014

Child who survived deadly Ky. fire recuperating

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A girl who escaped a western Kentucky house fire that killed her mother and eight siblings is recuperating from burns and communicating with her hospital nurses, a family friend said Friday.

Kylie Watson wrote “I’m hungry” on a dry erase board from her hospital bed, pastor Tim Burden said. Burden said the 11-year-old girl’s father, Chad Watson, is also making progress at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

Eight of Chad Watson’s children and his wife, Nikki, died in a house fire in rural Muhlenberg County early Thursday morning. Investigators say the fire was likely ignited when a combustible material made contact with a baseboard heater.

“The whole community is mourning. This is a tragedy, and it could happen to any of us,” said Duane Harvey, a neighbor who was the first person to arrive at the fire just after 2 a.m.

The father and daughter were listed in critical but stable condition on Friday afternoon.

Friends and relatives around the community of Depoy say the church-going family was loving and close but struggled with finances. Local banks are accepting donations to help the two survivors.

“They have nothing,” said Burden, who is pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Central City. Chad Watson “drove a $1,500 truck, and I’m being generous with that. We had to give him a jump every time he got ready to leave the church.”

Calvary Baptist Church is planning to hold a candlelight vigil for the nine victims on Friday evening. Burden said the family was renting the home and had no insurance and no funds to cover the cost of funerals. Chad Watson worked a paper route in the early morning hours and then went to a construction job after that.

“It’s just tough, because I was personally involved with them, I knew their woes of life, the struggles that they had,” he said.

Old National Bank is taking donations for the Watson family at all of its branches, and First Kentucky Bank in Central City and Commonwealth Bank in Greenville are also accepting donations.

Burden is hoping the banks collect enough to build a house for Watson and get him a working vehicle. A “Watson Family Fundraiser” Facebook page was also started on Thursday by friends of the family.

Shortly after the fire began, Harvey, chief of the nearby Graham Volunteer Fire Department, heard the call and rushed to his neighbor’s burning home. He met Chad Watson and his daughter in the road, and he took them to a neighbor’s house.

“Chad was extremely emotional, you could tell he was in a lot of pain,” Harvey said. He noticed burns on Watson’s arms, neck and head.

“The heat was so intense, even 35 feet in front of the house,” Harvey said.

The state medical examiner concluded on Friday that the nine victims died of smoke inhalation, according to a release from Kentucky State Police.

Along with Nikki Watson, the remains of 15-year-old Madison Watson; 14-year-old Kaitlyn Watson; 13-year-old Morgan Watson; 9-year-old Emily Watson; 8-year-old Samuel Watson; 6-year-old Raegan Watson; and 4-year-old twin brothers Mark and Nathaniel Watson were retrieved from the burned-out structure on Thursday. Nikki Watson and her children were found in the master bedroom of the home, part of which had collapsed during the blaze, state police said. Investigators said the family members could have been trying to escape through a window.

Nikki Watson’s niece Amber Lear drove by the scene of the fire on Thursday afternoon. She said her aunt was like an older sister to her when they were growing up, and she has fond memories of them playing together.

“She was an amazing mom,” Lear said of Watson.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Jim Zachary Mug shot.jpg Zachary named The Valdosta Daily Times’ editor

    Veteran newspaper editor Jim Zachary has assumed the editor’s chair at The Valdosta Daily Times.
    During the past two decades Zachary has been one of the most decorated community newspaper journalists in Georgia and Tennessee.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140728-griner001.jpg Griner takes oath

     Surrounded by family, friends, and fellow commissioners, Clay Griner took the oath of office Monday morning as the Lowndes County Super District 5 commissioner.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140728-man_hunt001.jpg Dump truck thieves sought

    Authorities continued searching for suspects Monday evening connected to a stolen dump truck involved in a chase with law-enforcement.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • City workers strike natural gas main

    A gas leak evacuated a neighborhood Monday when workers struck a natural gas main.

    July 29, 2014

  • education.jpg Desegregation status approved

    Forty-three years after an initial lawsuit was filed to force the system to desegregate, Valdosta City Schools has officially been approved for “unitary status.”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • ARociewilliams_002.jpg Woman shares nearly a century of lessons

    With nearly 100 years of life under her belt, Ocie Viola Williams has plenty of advice to share with the world. Her top two pieces of advice: know the importance of education and don’t expect a teacher to raise your child for you. 

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • psst1 photo page copy.jpg PSST! finishes peachy season

    Peach State Summer Theatre concluded its 2014 season Sunday, a season which broke attendance records for the professional musical theatre company.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_2381.jpeg Award-winning young professionals share success secrets

    The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber’s MetroOne Young Professionals hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday at the Hilton Garden Inn to highlight successful business practices.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140726_summerlibrary002.jpg Library celebrates end of summer reading program

    With the first day of school just around the corner, students are soaking in the last few weeks of summer vacation. The end of summer also means the end of the South Georgia Regional Library’s 2014 summer reading program.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • artseason1 copy.jpg A sneak peek at some area arts organizations’ 2014-15 seasons

    Beethoven. Tennessee Williams. Non-stop art. Two versions of “The Wizard of Oz.” The 2014-15 arts season is coming.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results