Reuters, Published January 30 2014
VIDEO: Kentucky house fire kills 9 family members, including 8 children
The children's father, Chad Watson, 36, a Baptist minister, suffered severe burns as he tried three times to save his children and wife, Nikki, also 36, according to his cousin, Adam Brown. The house was located in rural Muhlenberg County, about 130 miles from Louisville.
"The house went up pretty quick," said Brown, a pastor at Temple Baptist Church in Central City, Kentucky. He was among family members at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, where Watson and an 11-year-old daughter were taken after they escaped the burning house.
Brown said Watson was conscious at the scene of the fire, but had to be sedated by emergency workers before being flown to Vanderbilt. He said Watson suffered burns on his face and hands while his daughter was in better condition with some burns on her face and arms. Both were expected to recover.
State police are investigating the cause of the fire, although Kentucky State Trooper Stu Recke said it did not look suspicious and may be connected with recent frigid weather.
"It was extremely cold down here," Recke said. "I don't know if they were taking measures to try to keep warm, maybe using certain heaters."
The National Weather Service also warned on Thursday of strong winds and low humidity in the area, which can be a fire hazard.
Recke said fire officials were at the scene "within minutes" after a neighbor called to report the fire around 2 a.m.
"But by that time, the house was fully engulfed," said Recke. "The father advised the first responders his whole family was in there."
Kentucky State Trooper Corey King said the bodies of all nine victims had been recovered from inside the house and taken to the state medical examiner's office.
"I'm really saddened by what's taken place," said Jerry Eades, director of missions for Muhlenberg County Baptist Association, who said he's praying for the family. "It's a shocking thing that you think doesn't happen in your community but it does."
Brown said the Watsons had been married for 18 years.
"They were very nice people," said Ann Humphrey, 66, a neighbor. She said she would see the children riding their bicycles on the road when the weather was warm.
Humphrey said the house, situated on about an acre and a half of land, was "older" but appeared to be in good shape.