Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 3, 2014

Grim reminder

There are lessons for all of us in the aftermath of deadly fire

The Independent

FRANKFORT — A tragic fire that killed a mother and eight of her children in the southwestern Kentucky town of Greenville provides a grim reminder of the need to use caution when heating homes during cold weather.

The bodies of the mother and eight children were found huddled together in or near a master bedroom, victims of an early-morning fire Thursday from which only the father and an 11-year-old daughter escaped after it ripped through the modest home.

The fire started accidentally with combustible material against an electric heater in a bedroom, said Kentucky State Police Trooper Stu Recke.

On extremely cold nights like we have been experiencing lately, electric heaters may be necessary to keep some portions of a house warm, but when using them, caution must be taken to make sure than no combustible materials are touching or even near the heaters. We know from experience how quickly a blanket, newspaper or items of clothing thoughtlessly left near a heater can burst into flames. Fortunately the fires we have witnessed that were started by heaters were quickly brought under control, but the speed in which the fire erupted was enough to teach us to use more caution.

The dead mother, LaRae “Nikki” Watson, was only 35 while her children who died in the fire ranged in age from 4 to 15.

We can’t imagine the grief the father and surviving sibling must be going through, as well as friends, school classmates, and everyone else in a community where one neighbor said “everyone knew each other.” But if any good can come from this tragedy it is to remind us all that electric heaters can be deadly if not used carefully.