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Deadly house fire devastates, shocks Clay County community

Officials continue to investigate a house fire that took the lives of four children in Clay County. (WCHS/WVAH)

Many members of a tight-knit community said they were devastated when they heard the news about a house fire in Clay County that killed four young children.

"I heard about it, but it just can't sink in," Deborah Demoss said. "How real it can be?”

The fire late Saturday night claimed the lives of an 8-year-old girl, 4-year-old girl, 3-year-old girl and 6-month-old boy.

A makeshift memorial has been set up with stuffed animals and flowers on the stairs leading to what remains of the home as the community comes together.

Demoss said she had to see the charred remains of the two-story home with her own two eyes to believe the news that children she had seen so many times are now gone.

Emergency responders were shaken by the tragedy.

"It's really heartbreaking," Clay County EMT Christie Kliver said. "It’s horrific."

Kliver said she has known the foster parents, Trevor Neff, 22, and Katie Neff, 21, for a while and has come to their home numerous times to help with one of the children, who had a medical condition.

"They are outstanding people; their hearts are so big and I mean they are young to be responsible for five children that were not theirs. They are great people, and I can't imagine how this is impacting them,” Kliver said.

Katie Neff’s grandfather said he was devastated when he heard the news.

"It tore me up when I heard it," David Stewart said. "I hate to see this happen to her. She is just a kid herself trying to raise kids."

The Neffs said they loved all five of their foster children like they were their own. The couple got married in 2016 and wanted a large family, but were unable to have children. So, they said they decided to foster kids with hopes of adopting them.

"They were great people. They had to be to take these kids in,” Stewart said.

Katie Neff said they tried everything they could to rescue the four children in their home. She said she tried to use a fire extinguisher, but the fire rapidly spread through the home.

Neff’s 19-year-old brother was able to climb to the second story, break through a window and save a 2-year-old boy. He suffered injuries to his hand and suffered burns to his legs.

"There is no doubt in my mind they are suffering so much right now because they couldn't,” Kliver said.

Kliver said this tragedy has brought community together.

"People will come out and people will support," Kliver said.

Stay tuned to Eyewitness News for updates.

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