FLORA, Ind. – Authorities have released the identities of four sisters killed during a house fire early Monday morning in Flora, along with new information about the origin of the fire.
Authorities in Carroll County identified them as:
- Kionnie Precious Welch, age 5
- Kerriele Danyell McDonald, age 7
- Kayara Janell Phillips, age 9
- Keyana Latrice Davis, age 11
Crews were dispatched to the fire around 4 a.m. Monday in the 100 block of East Columbia Street in Flora. Indiana State Police said all four children were trapped inside the home at one point. Their mother, 28-year-old Gaylin Rose, was airlifted to Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis.
Tracie Rose, father of Gaylin Rose, visited the house Monday morning. He said he is struggling with the loss of his four granddaughters, but continues to look to God for comfort.
“It’s gonna be okay, man,” Rose said. “It’s so hard for me right now, but it’s gonna be okay.”
Rose believes his daughter is aware that her four girls are gone, even as she is being treated at Eskenazi Hospital.
“I think, the way they were describing how she was when she was out here before they airlifted her, she know,” he said. “I think she know.”
Tracie Rose said his daughter had not yet been able to speak, but she had responded to the sound of his voice, and she was expected to open her eyes for the first time at some point Tuesday.
“Everything is in God’s hands,” Rose said. “There’s nothing that we can do but follow directions.”
“I know that if I keep trusting in Him, things will be alright,” he said.
Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby said Tuesday that Deputy Drew Yoder, who was injured trying to save the children Monday morning, remained calm and stable at the hospital. Yoder suffered burns to his hands, head and ears during his attempt to rescue the girls from the burning house. He also sustained burn damage to his lungs. Doctors are keeping Yoder sedated as they continue to monitor his damaged lungs. Sheriff Leazenby said he remained confident that Yoder would recover.
Flora Police Officer Joshua Disinger, who was injured while pulling Deputy Yoder away from the fire was treated for smoke inhalation and released Monday evening.
The cause of the fire is undetermined due to the amount of damage. The fire originated in the kitchen area, possibly behind the refrigerator.
The home where the fire started has two apartments, one upstairs and one downstairs. The fire was concentrated on the lower level and firefighters said the second floor apartments didn’t sustain any damage.
Investigators couldn’t find batteries in a smoke alarm on the second floor. The smoke alarm was in the upstairs hallway, which was exposed to extreme heat. The alarm was scorched and melted. The smoke alarm in the second apartment with the uninjured mother was found to be working when crews responded to the fire.
There is no suspicion of foul play at this time. K9 units were brought in to search for traces of accelerants, and none were found.
Fora Police Chief Paul Redmon said special Arc Mapping equipment designed to pinpoint the origin of the fire should arrive in Flora Wednesday morning. It is unclear how long it could take to locate where the fire started and what caused it. Preliminarily, investigators said they believe the fire started in the back of the house on the ground floor.
Community members were expected to attend a special prayer service Tuesday night at 7pm at Flora United Methodist Church. Pastor Jeff Landon hopes the service, which is open to the public, will begin the healing process.
“I believe prayer is essential, and our faith is essential,” Landon said. “In a time like this, where else can we turn?”
“Prayer is the beginning of healing, and I believe it brings us closer together,” Landon said. “It’s the language, that common language that we can all relate to and come together.”
At the end of the prayer service, Landon said the entire congregation will walk one block from the church to the house on Columbia Street. Each person will be given a flower, which they will be able to lay at the front of the house where the fire occurred.
The girls attended Carroll Consolidated Schools. The district released a statement saying grief counselors would be available for students. School is not in session Wednesday because of Thanksgiving break, but counselors will still be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All school activities, other than high school practices in keeping with IHSAA requirements, have been cancelled for the week.