Investigation continues into fire that killed 7 in Knox County

March 10, 2013 

Kentucky State Police had no new details Sunday as an investigation continued into what caused a house fire that killed five children and two adults Saturday in Knox County.

Jesse Disney was sharing the house in Gray with Nina Asher, 22, who was pregnant, and her three children from a prior relationship, William, 3; Camden, 2; and Abigail, who was not quite a year old. Two other girls, thought to be ages 3 and 2, who were spending the night, also were killed.

Names were provided by family members.

Knox County Coroner Mike Blevins said Sunday that an electrical problem at the state medical examiner's office in Frankfort was delaying official identification. He said that the power was off and that the office was running on a generator.

Names might be released Monday after autopsies can be completed, Blevins said.

"We haven't heard anything," Ray Disney, uncle of Jesse Disney, said Sunday, adding that funeral arrangements had not been made.

The fire was reported to state police at 9:57 a.m. Saturday when a neighbor spotted smoke.

Gino Cima, also an uncle of Jesse Disney, told The Associated Press on Sunday that he arrived within minutes of hearing about the fire and Disney and Asher dead in the house.

"When I opened the screen door, she was laying at the door with her head to the door. And I pulled her out," he said, speaking softly. "And about 2 feet from her laying the other way was (my nephew). And I went in and got him and pulled him out. But they was done gone. There wasn't nothing I could do."

He said he then raced to the front of the house to try to save the children, but they had been pulled out by firefighters.

"And that's when they had the five babies laying out in the front yard," he said.

Laura Cima, Gino's wife, said they owned the single-story, wood-frame house that the couple was renting. She said the family had moved in recently and was busy painting and getting carpets cleaned. They shared a bedroom in the back of the house, and Laura Cima said the children were sleeping in a front room Saturday morning. She described an unused back bedroom where she and her husband saw flames pouring out of a window when they arrived Saturday.

Gray is a few miles outside Corbin, a city of about 7,000 in the foothills of Appalachia near the Daniel Boone National Forest and the state lines of Tennessee and Virginia.

Shannon Disney, a sister-in-law of one of the victims, said the house that burned on Shady Brook Lane was surrounded by homes of family members — so many that the area is nicknamed Disneyland. She said a relative who drove past the house at 7:45 a.m. saw nothing unusual, but another who lives nearby noticed smoke around 9 a.m.

"Everybody is very heartbroken over it. Everybody knows the Disney family," said Amy Weddle, who was working Sunday at J&G Market, a popular convenience store where the couple and the children frequently stopped to buy candy and milk. "They're always good to everybody."

Weddle put a jar on the counter Sunday seeking donations to help pay for burial expenses. It had four $1 bills in it Sunday morning.

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