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

250 students affected

Homelessness ‘vicious cycle that’s going to continue’

The economy has bounced back from the lows of a few years ago. The housing market is healthy, and the jobless rate has improved. But, for so ... Read More


Annual Sunrise on the Square Road Race a success

The annual Sunrise on the Square included ideal weather and a first-time winner who actually pushed his baby in a stroller. The race, hosted ... Read More


HealthSouth facility scheduled to open Dec. 2

Progress for HealthSouth’s new facility is on track for a Dec. 2 opening, which will add to the town’s growing collection of hea ... Read More


Subsidized medical center proposed for Senoia

Palmetto Health Council is applying for a grant to bring a subsidized medical clinic to Coweta, proposed for the Senoia area. The non-profit ... Read More


Economic Impact

Ports hit new record

The Georgia Ports Authority moved more than 3 million 20-foot equivalent container units in fiscal year 2014 – and set a new record fo ... Read More

Maternity home on zoning board’s agenda

Decisions on a proposed “maternity home” for pregnant teens, expanded outdoor seating for a proposed downtown restaurant, and al ... Read More