Muhlenberg County house fire kills mother, 8 children - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Muhlenberg County house fire kills mother, 8 children

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Nikki Watson and eight of her children were killed in the fire. (Source: Calvary Baptist Church) Nikki Watson and eight of her children were killed in the fire. (Source: Calvary Baptist Church)
Trooper Stu Recke Trooper Stu Recke
Garry Dukes Garry Dukes

MUHLENBERG COUNTY, KY (WAVE) - Garry Dukes needed few words to explain why he drove to Depoy from his home in Greenville to pay respects to a family he had never met.

"Your neighbor's more like a family," Dukes said. "Your next-door neighbor is your family."

Neighbors were the first emergency responders to call in the fire at Chad and Nikki Watson's home shortly after 2 o'clock Thursday morning.

[PREVIOUS STORY: 9 bodies recovered, 2 hospitalized in Muhlenberg Co. fire]

"From the time they (firefighters) took the call to here? Thirteen minutes, which is an excellent response time," said Trooper Stu Recke, public information officer for the Kentucky State Police post at Madisonville.  "When they arrived, the house was fully engulfed in flames."

Firefighters would need three hours to beat the flames down to hot-spots.

"Two were able to get out," Trooper Recke said. "The remaining 9 were unable to get out."

Chad Watson, 36, and his 11-year-old daughter Kylie, were flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. He's listed in critical but stable condition. His daughter is listed as stable.

Firefighters would find six of the victims quickly. They would need more than five hours and two 3-D laser scanners to find the other three.

"I didn't know what to do—what to say," neighbor Clarence Humphrey said. "Just stand and watch. You're so helpless."

Eight of the victims were found in a room close to the front of the house," Trooper Recke said. The ninth was found about 10 to 15 feet away.

Police confirm the victims are Watson's wife Nikki, 35, daughters Madison, 15, Kaitlyn, 14, Morgan, 13, and Emily, 9. Their three sons,  Samuel, 8, and 4-year-old twins Mark and Nathaniel, also perished.

"There's nothing suspicious about it at this time," Trooper Recke told reporters early Thursday afternoon. "We do not suspect foul play." 

By late afternoon, the state Fire Marshal was suspecting  flammable materials left too close to a baseboard heater started the fire.

Police said Chad Watson has been unable to tell them how he and daughter Kylie escaped the flames, but the others inside couldn't.

"Course, everybody's praying for them," Dukes said.

Chad Watson is an ordained minister, but he was not serving as Pastor of Central City's Missionary Baptist, which a fellow church member said the family considered its church home. The church will hold a vigil for the Watson family at 7 p.m. (CST) Friday.  The church's Facebook page requests prayers, and donations to help the family pay funeral expenses. "May God bless you for bringing light to a family in the midst of a great darkness right now," the post read.

"Of course, everybody's gonna get together on this," Dukes said. "Anything's gotta be done, we'll get it done."

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