Muhlenberg Co. House Fire Claims Lives of Nine Family Members Including Eight Children

Jan 30, 2014

Nine family members are dead and a community is in shock following a Thursday morning house fire in Muhlenberg County.

The scene of Thursday's house fire in Muhlenberg County
Credit Lisa Autry, WKU Public Radio

Investigators with the state fire marshal's office and Kentucky State Police say the fire was accidental and caused by a malfunctioning baseboard heater. The fire at the home in Depoy was first reported shortly after  2 a.m.

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The blaze took the lives of 36-year-old mother LaRae Watson, and eight of her children: 15-year-old Madison; 14-year-old Kaitlyn; 13-year old Morgan; 9-year old Emily; 8-year-old Samuel; 6-year-old Reagan; and 4-year-old twin brothers Mark and Nathaniel.

“Eight of the victims were located together in a room close to the front of the house," Kentucky State Police spokesman Stu Recke told reporters. "The other victim—the ninth victim—was located approximately ten to 15 feet away from them.”

They were able to be on the scene in a matter of minutes. But when they got there, the house was fully engulfed. It's a small-frame white house--doesn't look very big for a family of 11 people," reported Autry.

"We know that there was a mother and father and nine children. We know that the father was able to get out of the house, as well as one of the female children," she said. "They have recovered six bodies, and are now looking for three victims--three bodies inside the house."

The two survivors have been taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

Investigators are on the scene in an effort to determine the cause of the fire.

UPDATE 9:45 a.m.

The Kentucky News Network is quoting a neighbor as saying the victims of this morning's house fire in Muhlenberg County were all members of the same family. Their identities are not being released yet. The house is on Motes Lane in the Depoy community of Greenville.

Personnel from three fire departments, Greenville Fire and the Graham and Beechmont Volunteer Fire departments, responded to the blaze.

A spokeswoman at Vanderbilt Hospital, Dagny Stuart, confirms one adult admitted there this morning was taken to the main ER, while a child was taken to Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital, which is on the same campus.


A fire official says authorities believe as many as nine people were killed in a Muhlenberg County house fire. Greenville fire chief Roger Chandler says eleven people lived at the home and two were flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville for treatment.

Chandler said the blaze was reported at 2:00 a.m. central time Thursday morning and crews were still at the scene as much as five hours later.

Kentucky State Police are assisting in the investigation into the cause of the fire.

Two family members survived the fire and were transferred to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. The father—36-year-old Chad Watson—was listed in critical but stable condition. His daughter—11-year-old Kylie Watson—was listed in stable condition.

Autopsies on the eight victims' bodies began Thursday afternoon.

Local schools let students leave for home early as news of the deadly fire made its way around the Muhlenberg County area. Within hours of the fire being put out, an area bank had set up a fund to help pay for the family's funeral costs.

Neighbors who knew the Watsons were in understandable shock as fire's human toll became clear. 

Clarence Humphrey told WKU Public Radio he often saw the children playing outside.

“My wife and I would walk around the block every so often during the summer," he said. "I’d pick at ‘em, play with ‘em. I invited them to bible school last summer. They’re just good people.”

Update at 1:55 p.m.:

The nine victims of Thursday's Muhlenberg County house fire ranged in ages from 4 to 36 and included twin brothers.

Kentucky State Police spokesman Stu Recke confirmed the names of the nine family members who died in the fire that broke out around 2 a.m. in the town of Depoy.

The victims are:

LaRae Watson, 36

Madison Watson, 15

Kaitlyn Watson, 14

Morgan Watson, 13

Emily Watson, 9

Samuel Watson, 8

Reagan Watson, 6

Mark Watson, 4

Nathaniel Watson, 4

Update at 12:51 p.m.:

Three more bodies have been recovered at the scene of a Thursday morning house fire in the small Muhlenberg County town of Depoy. Nine members of a family died in the blaze, with two--the father and a daughter--taken to a Nashville hospital.

Kentucky State Police have identified the father as 36-year-old Chad Watson. He was listed as being in critical but stable condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The daughter, 11-year-old Kylie Watson, was listed in stable condition.

Update at 10:51 a.m.:

An early morning house fire in Muhlenberg County is feared to have claimed the lives of nine family members.

The fire broke out around 2 a.m. in the community of Depoy, just outside of Greenville.

WKU Public Radio's Lisa Autry, who is covering the story in Muhlenberg County, says first responders got to the house shortly after the blaze was reported.