Family meets for prayer service

ELKINS – At the site of the fatal Oct. 28 house fire, Chamberlain family members met with friends and local officials in a private gathering Monday before walking silently to the candlelight vigil at Elkins Town Square.

Elkins Mayor Van Broughton spoke as Chamberlain family members and their Central Street neighbors joined with Elkins City Council members, local fire fighters, EMS workers, law enforcement officers and hospital personnel in a prayer service.

Fire trucks from every department responding to the scene of Monday’s fire lined Central Street. Teddy bears, stuffed animals, angels and candles adorned the steps and the walkway of the Chamberlain home.

Broughton said the week had been tough, but said community members had been sticking together.

Councilman Mark Scott thanked everyone for taking part.

“I am glad we live in a community and a neighborhood that, in times of trouble, we can gather together as a big family,” Scott said. “Thanks to everyone, especially the first responders for coming together this evening.

“When I put this glove on, you cannot see my hand but it is still there,” Scott said. “You see the outside of us, but we are more than just a body. When I think about the children who perished in that house, you understand that there is a life beyond the life they lived here on earth.”

Scott said that even though the fire was a tragic event, the five Chamberlain family members who were killed by the fire were in heaven rejoicing.

Elkins firefighter Kevin Starcher also spoke and prayed with those gathered.

“As I come here tonight, I am reminded as I stand here on holy ground, that this ground is holy,” Starcher said. “For in this house behind us, we observed the fullness of the human experience. Two weeks ago, young children laughed and played on these grounds on which we stand.

“I am grateful for the family of first responders, of which I am a part, that gratefully serve this community,” Starcher said. “I am experiencing a flood of emotions as I stand here. I know my sisters and brothers worked hard. Over 55 fire fighters answered a call for help. On that morning, police officers were driving ambulances in a combined effort, out of love for one another.”

Starcher said even though the house is boarded up and charred, the memories of the Chamberlain family are not boarded up and charred. He said the family will live on in the love that those who knew them share.

Following the prayer service, those gathered left Central Street, walking together in silence, and followed the fire trucks to Elkins Town Square for the candlelight vigil.

Father Alan Chamberlain, 29, and four daughters – Kate Bolger, 11, Isabella Chamberlain, 4, Brienna Chamberlain, 2, and Alanna Chamberlain, 2, – all died as a result of the tragic fire. Two others injured in the fire – mother Jennifer Chamberlain, 34, and her brother Jeff Hyde, are still at West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.

On the Facebook Benefit cake walk and auction site for the victims of the Central Street Fire, Sara Forbes posted comments she said were from Jennifer Chamberlain’s mother, Karen Hyde.

Forbes’ post reads, “Jeff has had his tube removed and has awakened. He doesn’t know how to be sick and is miserable. We have focused him on bring released in 2 (sic) days but he wants to leave now. He doesn’t realize that he won’t magically feel better if he walks out the front door. Jen’s vocal cords are totally swollen so she was retubed. In 2 (sic) days they will put a tracheotomy in her and wake her up. Tube will come out (a) few days later. God help us when we have to break the news to each of them.”