Fatal fire: One year later

by Sarah Fay Campbell

alt


One year ago today, fire raged through a family’s home in the Westgate neighborhood, taking the lives of five people – including four young girls.

Friends and family will commemorate the loss with a public balloon release and two cookout gatherings.

The first cookout will begin at 2:30 p.m. in Westgate, and another will follow at First Avenue Park at 4 p.m., when the balloons will be released.

The exact cause of the fire at 2 Midland Park Lane in Newnan was never determined. It was originally thought to have begun in the circuit breaker panel inside the home, but fire investigators later ruled that out.

Killed that Saturday morning were Alonna “Lola” McCrary, 28, her daughters Eriel McCrary, 5, and Nikkiah White, 2, and their sisters Messi’ah White, 3, and MaKinzie Florence, 1.

McCrary’s daughter Nautica “Molly” McCrary, then 11, was the sole survivor of the fire.

Molly now lives with her paternal grandmother and her father, said Lola’s mother, Kathis Bennett.

McCrary has two other daughters, Erica, 7, and Destiny, 11.

“They’re doing well. They have some good days and some bad days,” Bennett said. “Eriel’s birthday was last week. We went to the cemetery and ate and spent time together,” she said.

Lola’s sister, Erica McCrary, said they try to keep the three girls busy.

“It affects Nautica more, because she was actually in the home and has to deal with those memories,” Erica said.

“I still feel empty sometimes,” said LaToya Brown, mother of Messi’ah White. “It’s hard missing her, it’s like I can’t get up. I’m so used to her being with me. I fight it every day. I try to keep smiling. I try to be strong.”

Brown explained how her daughter’s absence affects her, particularly in the home they shared.

“At home at night is when it really gets to me, when I’m at home, and I’m used to her calling my name or her sister wanting to play with her,” said Brown, whose daughter Alexis is 9.

“We’re making it,” Brown added. “I’m leaning more on God. He’s helping me out more and more.”

After the fire, Brown began attending City of Zion Deliverance Tabernacle.

“At first I was lost. It gave me hope, and it’s helping me to lean more to God,” she said. “The more I pray, the more I lean to God, the more he gives me strength. He lifted me up.”

“It’s still very hard to deal with,” said Shannon Arnold, great aunt of MaKinzie Florence. The family has become emotional as the anniversary has grown closer.

MaKinzie's family is hosting the First Avenue event as a ges- ture of thanks to everyone, not only the police and firefighters who helped, but many others, including Roscoe Jenkins Funeral Home, United Bank and First United Methodist Church of Newnan for the use of the church for MaKinzie’s funeral.

“We’re going to be thanking a lot of people who gave and showed their love,” Arnold said.



More Local

FOUND

UPDATE: Missing child located

Update 4:35 p.m. – Kanyah Stevens has been located by authorities on Hill St. and she is safe. The child has been reunited with her mo ... Read More


Senoia Council

Property tax exemption proposal denied

The Senoia City Council denied a proposal by resident Don Rehman to enact a property tax exemption for senior citizens. Rehman had proposed ... Read More


Ladds to open home to train lovers

Just like last year, Frank Ladd and his son Mark are opening their home to anyone who wants to see their Christmas-themed model train set. F ... Read More


Police on lookout for chase suspects

Newnan police are on the lookout for a number of suspects who abandoned their vehicle and fled on foot after a car chase ended in an acciden ... Read More


Senoia eyes changes to alcohol ordinances

Senoia’s City Council wants to move forward with creating ordinances to allow brew pubs and wine tastings in the city, as well as move ... Read More

Library launches 1,000 Books B4 Kindergarten

Studies show reading to young children can help begin a lifetime of learning, and the Coweta Public Library System is launching a new progra ... Read More