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UPDATE: Services Held for Four Children Killed in Pike County Fire

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email





UPDATE 1/18/13
VIRGIE, Ky. (WYMT) -- Funeral services were held Sunday for four children killed in a recent house fire. It was a fire that also killed their father, and critically injured their mother.

For many, it was not an easy day.

“It's a devastating event for all of us the fire department family everybody just devastated and it is heart breaking,” said Shelby Valley Fire Chief, Darrell Compton.

The funeral for the four Wilfong children, Dakota, 5, Tyler, 4, Cheyenne, 2 and 6-month-old Emily was held at Virgie Middle School.

The same fire trucks that battled the flames that took their lives were there in honor of each child.

“It’s our duty to go out and be with them, to weep with them, and mourn with them, and also rejoice with them when we can rejoice,” said Kermit Wright, Moderator of the Caney Creek Old Regular Baptist Church.

Those close to the children kept their memories even closer.

“We remember the boys in the hallways at the school laughing and playing with other students, said Valley Elementary School Guidance Counselor, Kim Weddington.

Even while a community mourns such a great loss; they find peace in the times they had.

“It's really a celebration of 4 kids’ lives that we have lost in a tragedy, but we're here to celebrate life,” said Weddington. “I feel like I've got four angels looking down on me today.”

Family and friends held a balloon release in memory of the children following the funeral.



UPDATE 1/18/13
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Friends and family will say their final goodbyes this weekend to four children who died in a Pike County house fire.

The January 9 fire killed William "Billy" Wilfong, 39, along with his children, Dakota, 5, Tyler, 4, Cheyanne, 2 and Emma, who was just six-months-old.

The fire happened at their home along Elswick Branch Road near Jonancy.

The State Fire Marshal believes the fire was caused by a heater in the living room that was too close to combustible material.

Other investigators said all five victims were found in the living room still on the mattress pad they were sleeping on. The investigators also said the home did not have working smoke detectors.

Tammie Tucker, the children’s mother, escaped the deadly fire, but was burned.Tucker was released from UK's Burn Unit Tuesday

Visitation for the children is Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. at Hall and Jones Funeral Home in Virgie.

he funerals are Sunday at 1 p.m. in the Virgie Middle School Auditorium. There will also be visitation at the school starting 11 a.m. Sunday.

Arrangements for children’s father, William Wilfong, have not been released.



UPDATE 1/15/13
PIKE COUNTY, Ky (WSAZ) -- The mother who survived a fire that killed her family has been released from the hospital.

Tammie Tucker's four children and their father died last week when their home in the Jonancy community of Pike County caught fire..

Tucker.escaped the deadly fire, but was burned.

Investigators say Tucker was released from UK's Burn Unit Tuesday.

The State Fire Marshal believes the fire was caused by a heater that was too close to combustible material.

Funerals have not yet been set for the five victims.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 1/14/13
PIKE COUNTY, Ky (WSAZ) -- Investigators with State Fire Marshal’s Office believe they know what caused a fatal house fire in Pike County.

Last Wednesday’s fire killed William "Billy" Wilfong, 39, along with his children, Dakota, 5, Tyler, 4, Cheyanne, 2 and Emma, who was just six-months-old.

The fire happened at their home along Elswick Branch Road near Jonancy about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Kentucky State Fire Marshal William Swope Jr. tells WSAZ.com that the fire was most likely caused by a space heater in the living room that was too close to combustible materials. As a result, Swope says the fire is being ruled “accidental.”

Other investigators said all five victims were found in the living room still on the mattress pad they were sleeping on. The investigators also said the home did not have working smoke detectors.

Tammie Tucker, the children's mother, did make it out of the house, but remains in serious condition at a hospital in Lexington recovering from severe burns.

Funeral services for the five victims have not been set.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 1/10/13 @ 11 p.m.
VIRGIE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Teachers and students at Valley Elementary School in Pike County, Ky, spent Thursday remembering two young classmates killed in a fire

Dakota, 5, and Tyler Wilfong, 4, both went to school there. The boys along with their father Billy Wilfong, and their sisters, 2-year-old Cheyenne and 6-month-old Emily were killed when
their house caught fire near Jonancy early Wednesday morning.

"This is unreal, to lose two students, an entire family," said Dakota Wilfong's teacher Norita Collins.

Words of sorrow from young classmates, teddy bears for comfort, and a t-shirt that belonged to 5-year-old Dakota now line the wall as you enter the school.

"We had one little girl who said 'Dakota's gone up to the sky to live with Jesus,'" said Collins.

Teachers at the school say even though the students are very young most of them are able to understand what has happened, and they are all just trying to help each other through it.

"They understand more than you think they do," said Tyler's Headstart teacher's aid Belinda Bentley.

Outside, the boys' names stretch the fence coupled with balloons, one of Dakota's favorite things.

The boys' teachers say they are trying to help keep their memories alive.

"Dakota was funny. He was so funny. He was extremely active," said Collins.

Bentley said Tyler hated coloring and loved monster trucks.
"His big blue eyes, that blonde hair. He was a lovable child," she said.

They are making sure everyone knows the impact the young boys made in such a short time.

"All I can do is pray for them and do everything I can to make sure everybody remembers Dakota and Tyler," said Collins.

The children's mother,Tammie Tucker was injured in the fire. At last check she was listed in serious condition at UK Hospital. She is expected to survive.

The State fire Marshal is still investigating what caused the fire. A preliminary cause could be released Friday.

Two memorial funds have been set up for the family. Donations can be sent to:

Community Trust Bank, Wilfong Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 269 VIRGIE, KY 41572.

U.S. Bank, Tucker-Wilfong Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 607 Virgie, KY 41572



UPDATE 1/10/13 @ 11:30 a.m.
JONANCY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The investigation into what caused a fire that killed a dad and four of children continues Thursday.

William Wilfong, 39, lost his life, along with his kids Dakota, 5,Tyler, 4, Cheyanne, 2 and Emma, who was just six-months-old.

The fire at their home along Elswick Branch Road was reported about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Kentucky State Fire Marshal William Swope Jr. tells WSAZ.com that several agencies are involved in finding the cause of the fire. Swope says with five people dead they want to be as thorough as possible.

Swope says they may have preliminary results of their investigation by early Friday afternoon.

Officials told our sister-station, WYMT that the bodies were found in the living room still on the mattress pad they were sleeping on. The investigators also said they didn't believe the home had working smoke detectors, and they think it is likely the family was using space heaters to keep warm.

The children’s mother, Tammie Tucker, is the only person to survive the fire. She was taken to the burn unit at UK Medical Center in Lexington, Ky. where she was last listed in serious condition.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 1/9/13 @ 9:45 p.m.
JONANCY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- As the sun set Wednesday evening, the smoke still lingered at the end of Elswick Branch Road -- the landscape changed by a fire that claimed the life of a father and four children.

William Wilfong, 39, lost his life, along with his kids Dakota,5, Tyler, 4, Cheyanne, 2 and Emma, who was just six months old. Their home was still smoldering, long after emergency crews left the scene of this tragedy.

"I've been doing this for 32 years," volunteer fire chief Darryl Compton said. "I learned a long time ago, you're never too old to cry. But moments like this your put it behind you, and then you go home and just break down."

James Tucker lives just feet from the house that burned. His daughter, Tammie Tucker, is the only one who survived. She's currently at a burn unit at UK Medical Center in Lexington, Ky. -- listed in critical condition.

"She said, 'Daddy, help, daddy help!" Tucker said. "I was right there at the window. We ran up to help the kids but there was no way to get in. It was too hot and too late."

Wednesday afternoon, Elswick Branch Road became home base for family, friends and complete strangers -- all trying to help during this tragic time.

Representatives for Valley Elementary School, which the two oldest children attended, stopped by with balloons and a memorial wreath to honor and remember the four children.

"It's just so sad,” Principal Freddie Bowling said. “It's a tragic event when you get a phone call that you've lost two of your students."

Grief counselors were at the school Wednesday and will be back Thursday.

"When something like this happens we feel it as a community, it hurts as a community," teacher Missy Honaker said.

Bowling says they're collecting donations for the family and are planning a balloon release in honor of the victims.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.



UPDATE @ 7:45 p.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A fire that killed a father and his four young children is causing pain that can be felt across state lines -- all the way into the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia. Many of the victims lived in the Kanawha Valley for several years.

William "Billy" Wilfong, 39, along with his four small children, were killed in the fire. The kids were Dakota, 5, Tyler, 4, Cheyanne, 2, and Emma, who was just 6 months old.

Their mother, Tammie Tucker, survived the fire and was taken to a burn unit at UK Medical Center in Lexington, Ky. She is listed in critical condition, according to information from Kentucky State Police.

The fire was reported about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday at a home along Elswick Branch Road near Jonancy, Ky.

The sister of the father killed in the house fire spoke with WSAZ.com and talked about the heartbreak and pain she's dealing with.

Sherry Milam got the call she never wanted. She shared stories of her brother, William "Billy" Wilfong.

Milam describes him as a great dad with a big heart and a free spirit.

"I know my brother would not have left without those kids," Sherry Milam said. "He would not have left that house without those kids. He would die before anybody."

Wilfong's boys were only a year apart -- born on the same day. Dakota was 5 years old, while Tyler was 4.

Milam says the boys were just like Billy when he was little, full of energy.

"The boys were riding bikes and being (rowdy), and they often reminded me of him because that's what he did all the time," Milam said.

Cheyenne was 2 years old, and little Emma was only six months. All of them had bright, blue eyes and smiling faces -- taken in an instant.

The last conversation Sherry and her brother had was on Facebook.

"He asked for my address because he wanted to send me a birthday card, and I didn't get a chance to respond," Milan said. "He was very thoughtful in that sense ... he had a heart for people."

Milan says Billy just had major surgery for staff infection in his lungs. He was a smoker.

She says the family was looking to move, wanting a new house and a better life.

Billy also left behind a 10-year-old daughter in the Kanawha Valley.

KSP detectives say Tammie Tucker made it outside to get help for her family.

Detectives, along with the KSP Arson Investigator, State Fire Marshal and Pike County Coroners Office, conducted a search of the home and found the victims' bodies.

The bodies were taken to the State Medical Examiner for positive identification. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE @ 12:30 p.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A small community is in mourning after a father and four children die in an early morning house fire. Their mother is recovering in a burn unit.

The fire was reported about 2:30 a.m. at a home along Elswick Branch Road near Jonancy, Ky.

Sherry Milan, a family member of the victims, tells WSAZ.com her brother, William "Billy" Wilfong, 39, along with his four small children were killed in the fire.

William's sister, Sherry, identified the children as Dakota,5, Tyler, 4, Cheyanne, 2, and Emma, who is just 6-months-old. She says the children were full of life and never seen without a bright smile on their faces.

Tyler and Dakota shared the same birthday.

Their mother, Tammie Tucker, survived the fire and was taken to a burn unit at UK Medical Center in Lexington, Ky. No word on her condition, but Milan says she doesn't know the shear magnitude of what has happened.

Milan says she is just heartbroken and trying to remember better times. She described William as a free-spirited guy whose kids are his life.

Milan says William lived near Charleston for several years and just recently moved to Kentucky.

William also leaves behind a 10-year-old daughter who lives in St. Albans.

Investigators are still on the scene trying to figure out what caused this fire.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE @ 11:50 a.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- We're learning more about the victims of a devestating house fire in Pike County, Ky.

The fire on Elswick Branch Road near Jonancy was reported about 2:30 Wednesday morning.

A family member of the victims tells WSAZ.com her brother, William "Billy" Wilfong, 39, and his four young children were all killed in the fire. William's sister, Sherry Milan, identified the children as Dakota, 5,Tyler, 4, Cheyanne, 2, and Emma, six-months-old were all killed.

Tyler and Dakota shared the same birthday.

Their mother, Tammie Tucker was taken to a burn unit in Pikeville, Ky. No word on her condition, but Milan says she doesn't know the shear magnitude of what has happened.

Milan says she is just heartbroken and trying to remember better times. She described William as a free spirited guy whose kids are his life.

Milan says William lived in the Kanawha Valley for several years and just recently moved to Kentucky.

William also leaves behind a 10-year-old daughter who lives in St. Albans.

Investigators still don't know what caused the fire.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Five people, including four young children have been killed in a house fire in Pike County, Ky.

The fire on Elswick Branch Road near Jonancy was reported about 2:30 Wednesday morning.

Fire officials in Pike County say the four children, ages five, four, two and six months, were killed along with their father.

We’re told the children’s mother was injured in the fire.

No other details have been released.

We have a crew headed to the scene.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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