Tragedy struck Clinton, Miss., early Saturday morning when a fire tore through a local rental home, killing a mother and her six children, despite the father’s efforts to get them out of the house.
WAPT-TV reports the fire started as a result of an electrical problem in the attic according to the state fire marshal. It has been ruled accidental.
Clinton is located 10 miles northwest of Jackson, Miss. The City of Clinton identified the victims in a Facebook post as Brittany Presley, 33; Lane, 13; Lawson, 12; Grayson, 6; Malcolm, 4; Felicity, 1; and Landon Brookshire, 15.
The city’s post continued, “Once arrangements and opportunities for support are provided, we will share on this page. Until then, please continue to pray for this family and our first responders.”
Jake Presley, the father, suffered smoke inhalation, burns, cuts, and bruises, authorities said. Presley remains in critical condition at a local hospital.
Blackledge told the New York Times Presley’s injuries were the result of attempting to save his family.
“He actually went in and told them to follow him,” he said. “He was going to lead them outside, and when he got to the door and outside, the children were not with him.”
Officials said there were no working smoke alarms in the house. Investigators said metal bars installed on the windows in the house to prevent burglars may have prevented the victims from escaping since the bars to do not open easily from the inside, according to WAPT.
The Presley family were members of the Raymond Road Baptist Church in Jackson. On Sunday, church members prayed for the family during services.
“They say you’re not supposed to question God, but how can you have anything like this happen and not ask why?” family friend Lynn Lee told the television station.
“The only way you can cope with this is just to give it to the Lord,” Deacon Bill Dubard told WAPT. “And say, ‘Look, take it from me. We can’t do this on our own’.”
Brittany Presley was a second-grade teacher at Reuben B. Myers School of Arts & Sciences in Canton.
“The best thing we can do is be positive and know that Ms. Presley is looking down on us and loving us, and we’re going to do everything in our power to make her smile,” said Principal Alphia Myers.
Mark Jones, communications director for the city of Clinton, told The Clarion-Ledger on Monday that funerals for the family wouldn’t take place until the investigation concluded.
According to the newspaper, the family had been living in the house for 10 to 12 years.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the Presley medical and funeral expenses.
As of Tuesday, it had raised more than $79,000 towards its $100,000 goal.
The Raymond Road Baptist Church is also accepting donations to help with the family’s needs.
Donations can be mailed to:
Jake Presley Fund
c/o Raymond Road Baptist Church
4622 Raymond Road
Jackson, MS 39212
CBN News has reached out to the leadership of the Raymond Road Baptist Church in Jackson for comment and an update on Jake Presley’s condition. We’ll update this story as soon as they respond.