Community rallies together to help families of fire victims
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) - The Guthrie community is rallying to help a family in need after three children and their aunt were killed in an apartment fire over the weekend.
Fire officials said flames broke out just before 3 a.m. Sunday at the Quail Ridge apartment complex in Northwest Oklahoma.
Guthrie Public Schools identified the children, who died Sunday morning, as Paisley Evans, a pre-kindergarten student, and Bentley Evans, a first grade student, both from Charter Oak Elementary, and Guthrie Upper Elementary sixth-grade student Carson Nyte.
Their aunt, Melissa Evans, was also killed in the fire.
Officials at the Oklahoma City Fire Department said a man was inside with the family and jumped from a second-floor balcony, allegedly in an attempt to catch the children from the ground.
Fire officials said the man told firefighters the smoke alarm had awakened his girlfriend and that's when they tried to escape but there was too much fire.
"His condition is unclear. I was told he had second-degree burns," said Benny Fulkerson, public information officer district chief, Oklahoma City Fire Department.
Fulkerson said fire crews weren't able to enter the building upon arrival because of heavy fire on the first and second floors. He said crews began knocking down the fire so they could get inside.
"We started a search and that's when we found three victims. Around 8 a.m. we found the fourth victim," said Fulkerson.
"What happened to this family, there’s no words big enough to describe how horrible this event is," said Clayton Blair, a friend of the family.
“Our hearts go out to the families that lost children in this tragedy," said Dr. Mike Simpson, the Guthrie schools superintendent. "This is truly a sad day in Guthrie. Many of our students and staff will be affected and we pledge to provide the support necessary in this time of grieving.”
FOX 25 interviewed a friend of one of the victims and his football coach. They described Carson as a soft-spoken, quiet kid.
"He was one of the most tenderhearted young men I ever knew," said Dennis Ochs, Carson's football coach.
Ochs said he coached Carson for six years.
"He was such an asset to the football team," said Ochs.
"He was just that one person that would come up to you and say, 'Hey, how ya doing?' said Luke White, Carson's friend.
"My grandson said, he won't ever be there again," said Ochs.
The Guthrie community is now coming together to help the Evans and Nyte families.
"There's not a nicer family in this community. They would do anything for anybody. They participate, they're loyal. They're good friends. They're just good, good Oklahoma people," said Ochs.
A community car wash has been scheduled for Sunday from 1-6 p.m. and Feb. 9, from 8-5 p.m. in the parking lot east of the James Long Office in Guthrie and just west of Interbank.
All money raised will go to help the family.
A bank account has also been set up in Guthrie at Bancfirst called "THE EVANS/NYTE memorial fund."
A GoFundMe account has also been set up. Click here for more information.
A memorial service will be held Saturday at the Community Church on Seward Road at 2 p.m.
Fulkerson said the cause of the fire is undetermined as an investigation is ongoing.