ELKINS - Residents across the region continue to grieve for the Chamberlain family, the victims in Monday morning's fire on Central Street. Many local people are also working to raise money for the family through a series of fundraisers, and to honor the memories of the five who have died.
Elkins Mayor Van Broughton said there will be a candlelight vigil for the family from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at the Elkins Depot.
"We will honor those who lost their lives in the fire - Alan, Katie, Bella, Brienna and Alanna," Broughton said. "We will also offer up prayers for those still struggling from their injuries - Jennifer and Jeff."
Shilyn Spencer, 4, kisses a balloon before she sends it on its way to her friend, Bella Chamberlain, on Thursday morning. Shilyn and Bella always met at the bus stop each morning, and rode the bus together to Third Ward Elementary School. Bella lost her life Monday during an early-morning fire at her home on Central Street in Elkins. Shilyn said she was sending the balloon to heaven for her friend.
The father of the family, Alan Chamberlain, 29, and the family's four children - Katie Bolger, 11, Isabella Chamberlain, 4, Brienna Chamberlain, 2, and Alanna Chamberlain, 2 - all died as a result of the tragedy.
Officials from the West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh said two people - the mother, Jennifer Chamberlain, 34, and her brother, Jeff Hyde - still are being treated at the facility.
The fire is being investigated by the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office, which has not yet released the cause of the blaze.
A group that calls themselves "Friends and Family of Jen and Alan Chamberlain" are hosting a bake sale, hot dog sale, raffle and 50-50 drawing Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. at the Valley Point Mall near Kmart in Elkins.
The group is asking for people to donate baked goods or money for this event. All proceeds from this sale will go to the Chamberlain family.
A checking account has been opened so that donations for the family may be made at any Citizens Bank of West Virginia office, including those located in Elkins, Beverly, Parsons and Snowshoe. Donations can be mailed to Chamberlain Family Memorial Fund, c/o Citizens Bank of West Virginia, P.O. Box 1519, Elkins, WV 26241. Include account number 1045 in the memo part of your check.
Broughton opened the checking account on Wednesday.
"I am excited because when I checked the balance at 2 p.m. Thursday, there was nearly $2,000 in the account," Broughton said. "This will really help the family."
Another group of friends has organized a spaghetti dinner to help the family. The dinner will be at the First Baptist Church in Elkins from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 16. Dinners include a salad, drink, spaghetti, meatballs and garlic bread. Carry out will be available. Dinners are $7 for adults and $3 for kids 10 and under. Tickets are available at the door.
The group is organizing another event at the end of November, and in January they will sponsor an elimination dinner, 5K race and chicken BBQ, where proceeds will benefit the family.
The first announced benefit for the family was made public Tuesday when Harvey Taylor, a Randolph County Board of Education member, said the event will be "a combination cakewalk, 50/50 drawing and auction" held at George Ward Elementary School at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 9.
Taylor said all proceeds from the event will go toward the family's funeral costs.
At Elkins Middle School, students and teachers will be collecting books and donations in memory of Katie Bolger, who was a student at the school.
From Monday through Nov. 8, the school will be dedicating a section of the EMS library to Katie and are asking residents to purchase books suitable for 11- to 14-year-olds to fill this section. They will be accepting donations which will be used to purchase books for the library. Books and donations may be dropped off at the school any weekday from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Members of the Elkins Volunteer Fire Department have made an offer to those who cannot afford to protect their homes with smoke detectors. A post on the department's Facebook page reads, "Anyone needing a smoke detector and can't afford one, please stop by the Elkins Volunteer Fire Department. We will personally buy one and install it.
"Those that have smoke detectors, please make sure they are in working order and change the batteries this Saturday when we set our clocks back. Make sure to have one in every sleeping area, on each level of the home, in the hallways and in the cooking area."