NEWCOMERSTOWN, Ohio (WJW) – It was a horrific tragedy as a raging fire took the lives of a family of six in Tuscarawas County.
Neighbors, relatives and the entire community are mourning the loss of what appears to be a mother, father and four little girls.
The Tuscarawas County Coroner has not yet positively identified the victims. The bodies have been sent to the Cuyahoga County medical examiner’s office for further examination.
But neighbors, community members and loved ones are already mourning the loss of an entire family whose house burned to the ground.
“All the children, they were angels. They’re, the family, they were amazing people,” said neighbor and extended family member, Adrianna Clay.
“It was just tragic. There’s no other words for it. I couldn’t do anything,” said her mother, Kitty Clay.
Kitty and her daughter Adrianna live right next door to the home on Spaulding Avenue in Newcomerstown that burned to the ground early Monday morning.
Neighboring departments helped the Tuscarawas County village firefighters put out the flames.
“I was down in the basement and it was about 1 a.m. and it was a loud boom. I came running upstairs and I thought someone had just broke into my house. I came running upstairs and the entire side of the house was engulfed in red flames,” said Adrianna.
“The fire started between 12:30 and 1:00 and by 2:30, the house was on the ground,” said Kitty.
Kitty and Adrianna say the family next door — Leroy Elliott, Jr,, Terrin Hendricks and their four daughters, ages five to 14 — were more than neighbors, they were extended family.
Kitty showed FOX 8 a photo taken last Christmas with her husband dressed as Santa.
“Alyssa Rain was my little shining star. She was since the day she was born. Abigail and Ariel and Addison, they were the most beautiful little girls. Very loving, very caring,” Kitty said.
“The mother, she had a heart of gold. I mean, the children did no wrong. If you needed something, Terrin was there. Leroy was the greatest father to their children. He would have done anything to protect those babies and I know for a fact that he went down fighting to protect those kids,” said Adrianna.
Jason Peoples, superintendent of the Newcomerstown Exempted Village School District, released a statement reading, in part, “Our hearts are heavy as we begin to process the enormity of this loss. The school district, staff and entire school community send our thoughts, prayers and unwavering support to the family and friends of those who were taken too soon.”
A couple hundred people gathered in the parking lot of Christ United Methodist Church, right around the corner from the house, Monday evening to honor the victims.
“I stood there and I watched. I made sure they got our angels out safely, to be in the hands of God and to be able to lay them to rest,” said Kitty.
The neighbors say the family’s dogs perished as well.
Newcomerstown Schools will be offering grief support at West Elementary School tomorrow from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. for all families of Newcomerstown schools.
Additional counselors and support staff will also be available when students return to school on Tuesday, January 3, and as needed thereafter.
The state fire marshal is assisting with the investigation. So far, a cause of the fire has not been determined.