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Vigil, funerals planned for 6 victims of deadly fire

Published On: May 15 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: May 16 2013 05:29:01 PM CDT

A celebration of life service will be held Friday for the six people who died in a house fire in Schuylkill County.

POTTSVILLE, Pa. -

Funeral services are set for Friday afternoon for the six victims who died in a horrific house fire in Schuylkill County.

A celebration of life service will start at 4:30 p.m. at the Foursquare Gospel Church in Pottsville.

Kelly Brown lost her four children, Joy, Jeremiah, Emily and Elijah. They were between 2- and 8-years-old. Kelly's husband, Eric, and her sister, Kristina Thomas, also died in the fire.

Balloons and flowers were sitting outside 235 Pierce St. on Thursday. The house sits gutted, burnt and empty. It's a horrific reminder of what happened on Mother's Day night.

"It's the most tragic event that ever happened in the city," said Mayor John Reiley, D-Pottsville.

Kelly is the only survivor; she was across the street doing laundry.

Pottsville is left devastated, and the fire department is traumatized.

"There were a lot of younger members in the department that never went through a fatality. Six years ago was the last one we had, so we have some newer members it struck them a little hard," said Chief Todd March, Pottsville Fire Dept.

Forty members of the department have been to counseling. According to March, his crew knew people were trapped inside when they arrived, but the flames were so intense they couldn't go in.

The fire started in the kitchen and appears to be accidental, but officials are taking the investigation slow to determine the exact cause, said March.

The fire department has some theories of what happened, but nothing concrete. March said the home did not have smoke detectors. If it did, all six lives may have been saved.

"At the very least they could of made a 911 call and got moving a lot quicker, and there's a good chance they would have got out," said March.

The tragedy has also hit home for the Pottsville Area School District. Joy, the oldest daughter, was in the third grade at John S. Clarke Elementary Center. Her little brother, Jeremiah, went to kindergarten there two years ago. The school has provided counseling for students and staff.

"They were good students for us and they touched a lot of lives, so I'm sure they left a lasting impression on their classmates," said Jeffrey Zwiebel, superintendent of the school district.

The community is rallying behind Kelly Brown. A candlelight vigil is planned outside the home 7:00 p.m. Thursday.