Parishioners comfort relatives of West Virginia fire victims

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. As Talma Isabell coped with the crushing heartache of losing her daughter and five grandchildren in a house fire that killed nine people in all, several dozen people surrounded the woman and her family at church Sunday with their arms raised and their heads bowed in prayer.

Seven children and two adults died in the Saturday morning blaze in Charleston, about 11 miles east of the church. Isabell’s daughter, Alisha Carter-Camp, had celebrated her 26th birthday at the home the night before her death.

Ms. Isabell and several relatives gathered at Maranatha Fellowship Church in St. Albans, W.Va., on Sunday, getting hugs and prayers from fellow worshippers. Just a few hours before, the fire claimed its ninth victim, a 7-year-old boy who died after being removed from life support at a hospital.

The Rev. Darren Powell described how he went to the hospital a few hours after the fire to be with Ms. Isabell. There was little he could do or say, but he told her he wanted to let her know the family was in the church’s prayers.

“She said, ‘Pastor, I’m standing on my foundation, Jesus Christ,’ ” Mr. Powell said. “I’m telling you, I went there trying to be a help and encouragement, and instead, she encouraged me.”

Mr. Powell then thanked Ms. Isabell for her strength, courage and faith.

“In the midst of tragedy and turmoil, you are being a great witness for your king and your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Mr. Powell said.

Mr. Powell also asked parishioners for donations to help with funeral costs. And at the Charleston hotel where Ms. Carter-Camp worked at the front desk for six months, hotel administrative assistant Kathy Mullins said donations are being collected that will be given to the family.

The blaze tore through the two-story home hours after the last guest had left Ms. Carter-Camp’s birthday party.

Jason Bausley said Ms. Carter-Camp was his niece and that she rented the home. Her sister, Latasha Jones Isabell, lived there along with the sisters’ children. The cause remains under investigation.

Police released the names of the victims Saturday but didn’t know how they were related. On Sunday, Mr. Bausley identified the victims as Ms. Carter-Camp and two of her children, Keahna Camp, 8; and Jeremiah Camp, 3; Ms. Carter-Camp’s boyfriend, Alex Seal, age unknown; and Mr. Seal’s 3-year-old daughters, Kiki and Gigi. Also killed were Latasha Isabell’s children, Elijah Scott, 3, and Emanuel Jones, 18 months, Mr. Bausley said.

There was more reason to grieve Sunday when Ms. Carter-Camp’s 7-year-old son, Bryan Timothy Camp, was removed from life support Sunday morning, Charleston Police Sgt. Bobby Eggleton said.

On Sunday, police tape still cordoned off two streets outside the home, while two patrol cars kept watch and investigators looked through the house.

Students from an elementary school attended by some of the victims put up a blue sign on the fence outside the home that reads: “Gone But Not Forgotten.”

Across the street, four stuffed toys were lined up along the sidewalk outside the adjacent home of a baby sitter.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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