LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — An engaged couple and five children killed in a weekend house fire in southern Kentucky were positively identified Tuesday as investigators worked to determine the cause of the blaze.
Trooper Shane Jacobs said those who died Saturday in the blaze in the southern Kentucky community of Gray were 27-year-old Jesse Disney; his fiancée, 22-year-old Nina Asher; her three children, 3-year-old William Gray Jr.; 2-year-old Camden Gray; and 8-month-old Abigail Gray; and two family friends, 2-year-old Paiten Cox and 2-year-old Brielle Cox.
Paiten Cox would have been 3-years-old on March 23. The Cox children were friends of the family who were spending the night.
Investigators were trying to pinpoint the cause of the fire and have said it could take some time before the cause is determined. Jacobs said autopsies were done Monday.
The blaze shook the rural community of Gray is a few miles outside Corbin, a city of about 7,000 in the foothills of Appalachia near the Daniel Boone National Forest and the borders of Tennessee and Virginia. At the J&G convenience store, just up the road from the home, a large empty bubble-gum bucket bore a sign seeking donations to help offset the funeral costs. And Vankirk-Grisell Funeral Home in Corbin planned to donate services to the family of the children who were visiting.
Knox County Magistrate Giulio Cima, who represents the Gray area, said the two visiting children were bathed and fed a hot meal that night and slept over.
“There’s a lot of things that happen in this world that you can’t answer for,” Cima said. “This is going to be bad for that family for a long time.”
Attempts to reach the Cox family were unsuccessful Monday and Tuesday morning.
Cima’s brother, Gino, is Jesse Disney’s uncle. Gino Cima tried to rescue the adults and children from the fire, but was unsuccessful.
“He’s lucky he got in and got out,” Giulio Cima said. “He’s not in great condition, but I guess he reached in and found a little more.”
The two firefighters who pulled the children from the charred house sat near a tree in the front yard afterward, looking despondent, Giulio Cima said.
“This right here is probably the worst thing that happened in this county in years,” Cima said. “But, we’re going to get through it.”
On Monday, charred photos, books, children’s art, broken glass and pieces of the collapsed roof littered the lawn outside the house near Disney’s relatives. Another of Disney’s uncles, Bobby James Disney, picked through the remains after speaking with arson investigators.
“It’s heartbreaking, losing those kids like that,” Bobby James Disney said. “Those kids are helpless.”
The area contains the homes of so many family members that it’s nicknamed “Disneyland.”
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