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Police: 9 bodies recovered after Kentucky house fire

GREENVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- An early morning blaze at a home in rural western Kentucky killed nine people, while two others escaped and are being treated for injuries, according to Kentucky State Police.

An adult who fled the fire about 2 a.m. CST in the Depoy community of Muhlenberg County told first responders that most of the family remained inside the house, Trooper Stu Recke said. Recke said the remains of six people were recovered by the afternoon, and investigators were working to determine the cause of the blaze.

"Basically, it is a recovery effort," Recke said.

A family member, Ricky Keith, said a couple in their 30s lived in the house with their nine children ranging in age from 16 to pre-school aged. Recke said a father and daughter survived the fire, but he was unsure of their condition.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center spokeswoman Dagny Stuart said an adult and a child were taken to the hospital in Nashville, Tenn., but she could not provide details about their conditions.

The fire broke out in the single-family house just west of Greenville, which is about 130 miles southwest of Louisville in the state's western coal fields. Greenville had a population of just more than 4,000 people in 2010, census figures show.

Keith, who lives about a mile up a hill from the home, said the couple struggled financially with the 36-year-old father working construction and handling a paper route while the 35-year-old mother stayed home with the children.

"I don't know how they made it as long as they had. They've struggled as long as I've known them, but they loved one another, I know that and they loved them kids," Keith said.

Recke described the region as "a rural area where everybody knows everybody." The house is in a small neighborhood of single-family dwellings, trailers and farmland.

The side and roof of the small, white-wood frame house with three bedrooms and an enclosed porch collapsed around the chimney. In front of the house, a white van stood on a concrete parking pad. At least five kids' bikes and a child's riding toy were strewn about the yard near a swing set.

Keith said the home was "wore out" and the children played constantly in the yard.

"They kept them in the yard and didn't let them out of their sight," Keith said.

Several first responders lived near the home and reported that the house was fully engulfed when they arrived, within minutes of getting the call, Recke said.

The Kentucky State Fire Marshal also had an investigator on the scene. Recke said it is too early to tell what caused the blaze but noted that temperatures in the area were in the teens and single-digits overnight.

This is Kentucky's third fire in a little more than a year that has killed five or more people. Last January, four children under 6 and their father were killed in a blaze near Pikeville in eastern Kentucky that also severely burned their mother. Authorities said the home lacked a smoke detector.

In March, a fire at a home in the southern Kentucky community of Gray killed a young couple and five children, the oldest of whom was 3.

The area of the latest fire was featured in the 1971 John Prine song "Paradise," about the impact of coal mining and what happens to the area around the Green River once the mining ends. The song references Peabody Energy Corporation and a now-defunct town called Paradise.

Kentucky House Fire Kills Several Children

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beaniepenie January 30 2014 at 4:25 PM

Terrible tragedy...my heart goes out to the family!!!!

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ozalot January 30 2014 at 12:58 PM

How horrible. RIP

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Ken Kindschi January 30 2014 at 12:58 PM

Those poor people didn't have much to begin with, now they have nothing. My Grandsons have been going to that area for the past few years to help build homes and repair others as they can't afford to do it themselves . May God Bless them.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
2 replies
psharphillpress Ken Kindschi January 30 2014 at 1:18 PM

I think you refer to the work done by CAP..Christian Appalachian Project, which I support They show terrible living conditions & houses such as these, & asks for support.

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Paulette Clardy Ken Kindschi January 30 2014 at 2:09 PM

This didn't happen in Appalachia. It happened in a community on the outskirts of a small town in Western Kentucky. There are no coal mines in the vicinity of this community, as readers may infer from reading the story. Muhlenberg County used to have several strip mines and a few underground mines, but not so much any more. This community is near a shopping area, fast food restaurants and other businesses, not out in the boonies. The family, although poor, had access to food, water and utilities. What happened was a tragedy and so very sad for the family, friends, the first responders and the entire community.

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1 reply
campbell1221 Paulette Clardy January 30 2014 at 3:04 PM

It's does not matter if they had access to stores. the house they lived in shows how poor they were. God help all the people that live in poverty. It's amazing how people live here in the mighty USA it's more like a third world country.

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bakeman52963 January 30 2014 at 6:47 PM

R.I.P. all who perished! A family is a wonderful thing. A smoke detector is too! I hope this not a case of not having one you can get one or two for free from your local fire dept.!!! Get one and check your batteries now!! It can and will save your life and those you love.

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roseyoungstewart January 30 2014 at 1:04 PM

Topix claims the fire started around a wood stove.

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1 reply
hellyon3too roseyoungstewart January 30 2014 at 1:38 PM

Topix can claim whatever they want, but until the Fire Marshall issues a statement, the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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sjbc1025 January 30 2014 at 1:10 PM

This is terribly sad. Earlier this month 3 children died in an Indiana house fire because the landlord cut off their gas and electric and they used a makeshift propane heater trying to stay warm. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/13/three-kids-die-in-makeshift-heater-explosion-after-landlord-shuts-off-heat-during-polar-vortex/ The soaring costs of heating in harsh winters like this has attributed to many deaths over the years, many elderly and children, it's such a shame there isn't some regulation that these companies cannot turn off people's heat sources during the winter months. But then, so many people hate any kind of regulations so it will be a tough sell. My prayers go out for this family and to others trying to get by this winter.

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2 replies
Elizabeth sjbc1025 January 30 2014 at 1:30 PM

In some places there are regulations that the utility companies cannot shut someone off during the cold weather, but I don't know if that would also apply to a landlord. The one you reference should be charged with murder.

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wildflower sjbc1025 January 30 2014 at 2:23 PM

@sjbc, not making excuses for your ref. case...just that my friend rents a house. She can't afford to pay the utilities, for the renters. The rent money goes to pay the house payment....I know this, because she lives with me....she can't afford to live in her own home, lost her job, etc. So sorry for this family, it is indeed a great sorrow!

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ohioh111b111y January 30 2014 at 1:12 PM

What a loss : ( My condolences to their family and friends.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
winnerschoiceltd January 30 2014 at 1:18 PM

Pray for the ones lost , and bless the ones remaining.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
RICH January 30 2014 at 1:23 PM

This is beyong sad.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
foxx1952 January 30 2014 at 12:57 PM

As a Fire Arson Investigator its one job that hits at the core of a loved ones life.No one is immune to the dangers of fire.

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1 reply
roseyoungstewart foxx1952 January 30 2014 at 12:58 PM

riiiiight and I am the wife of the pope.

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3 replies
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