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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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obannerc January 30 2014 at 11:55 AM

I am praying for those who perished in the fire and the survivors.

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2 replies
sylvabugg2 obannerc January 30 2014 at 12:22 PM

Prayers for those who perished do no good, they are already gone. Pray instead for the survivors who must now go on without their family members and live with this horrible tragedy the rest of their lives. The time to pray for someone is while they still live. Pray that they know where they are going before they die, because afterwards, it is too late.

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will obannerc January 30 2014 at 12:29 PM

Bless you.

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darlinsass January 30 2014 at 11:53 AM

This is just heartbreaking. Rest in peace little ones. May the the last two find peace in their hearts and minds with time.

If anyone gets the chance listen to John Prine's song Paradise.

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1 reply
DEEDEE GOOD darlinsass January 30 2014 at 12:16 PM

Amen this is so so tragic and sad.....I don't know these people but I am devastated that this happened.....,.God Bless this family

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smcmahon1949 January 30 2014 at 11:55 AM

my prayers go out to the survivers this is so sad and could probably have been prevented with a smoke detector may the deceased rip and god bless and keep them

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1 reply
will smcmahon1949 January 30 2014 at 12:28 PM

God bless you....at least there some people chatting that actually care.

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rizngod January 30 2014 at 12:00 PM

There are so many dilapidated houses that people are actually living in here in Kentucky. The homeless issue must be addressed so that people are not forced to live under such conditions. Currently with the arttc blasts happening and the winter being colder than most winters, we can expect these types of happenings in these houses that are basically ruined already.

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2 replies
icastfuturestars rizngod January 30 2014 at 12:10 PM

Why dont you send a letter yo te PRESIDENT he seems SO concerned about housing and poor people while he carries on the WAR in Afghanistan, does business with the Big banks, and Send DRONES to kill people.

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2 replies
sylvabugg2 icastfuturestars January 30 2014 at 12:20 PM

Our POTUS does not care about the American people. His single purpose was and continues to be the destruction of this country. He hates America and everything it stands for. There are so many homes in foreclosure that are sitting empty right now that every homeless person in this country could have six of them. When are people going to figure out that Obama and his administration do not and never have had their best interests in mind?

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campbell1221 icastfuturestars January 30 2014 at 12:38 PM

Another idiot, tell your woes to the republicans that run that state. and don't forget these stupid wars were the fault of greedy Bush and his hunger for oil.

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Michael rizngod January 30 2014 at 12:50 PM

What is your ignorance based on

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msmith6791 January 31 2014 at 11:09 AM

Would it be possible to organize efforts in every city - volunteers setup by the municipality to work on notifying every resident to install/and/or check for smoke detectors to be installed and or checked for proper battery and operation? Surely if there had been one all these people would be alive. Just suggesting.

This is a comment about common sense that we should all promote.

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Tom January 30 2014 at 12:04 PM

Wow, 11 people lived in that house?

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2 replies
larry Tom January 30 2014 at 12:20 PM

I too am surprized that 11 people were in this home. Looks like the economy and unemployment is much worse than Obama is admitting under his watch. But then, who believes anything Obama says, now days ??? My condolences to the family.

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3 replies
Michael Tom January 30 2014 at 12:48 PM


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ronnilundy January 30 2014 at 12:11 PM

This is a tragic story, painful to read, but worth getting to the end. I am grateful to the writer who understands the deeper context, the desperate landscape and devastating larger history that this tale of personal tragedy unfolds in. If you have eyes to see/ears to hear, the reference to Prine's Paradise and it's accounting of the laying waste of land and people that began generations before and continues to this day may help you understand, rather than judge or, worse yet, stand outside and mock.

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TexasKitty January 30 2014 at 12:01 PM

A smoke alarm doesn't cost that much and it would have prevented all these deaths. Sad!

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4 replies
sean5129 January 30 2014 at 12:07 PM

Condolences to surviving family members!
RIP to the victims.
Prayers are with both.
From Members of Chicago Fire Dept.

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kimcrdr January 30 2014 at 12:15 PM

Very sad indeed, sending prayers and my condolences out to the family and friends of the deceased, very very sad!!

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