UPDATE: Investigators concluded there were no working smoke detectors in the two story, two bedroom duplex that went up in flames and killed four children on Tuesday.
According to the county, there was one smoke detector found downstairs on the home’s main floor, but there was no battery in it.
There also were no sprinklers in the duplex, which at the time of its construction in 1983 were not required.
The official cause of the fire has not yet been determined and is still under investigation.
(Jan. 10, 1:30 p.m.) A prayer vigil has been set for 7:30 p.m., Thursday, at Macedonia Baptist Church, 1052 Barton Street, Conyers, GA 30012. The public is invited, said Pastor Billie Cox.
Regarding donations, the family has been able to secure an apartment but is in need of furniture.
Cox said Reba Glass was in better spirits today but is starting to deal with the physical pain of her burn injuries as the emotional shock wears off. She said 6-year-old Darnell Jr. was told about his siblings but was too young to fully grasp what happened. He released from Children's at Egleston late last night and was able to see his mother.
"They saw each other yesterday, which was emotional and bittersweet and a little bit harder on her than she had anticipated it would be."
She said the children's grandmother Rosetta Mitchell is "staying strong, as she would have to to make sure her daughter's wishes are carried out."
(Jan. 9, 7:22 p.m.) The family and the victims killed in Tuesday's fire have been identified.
Reba Glass, 27, is the mother of Ah-Dariya, 9, Deshawn, 7, Darnell Jr., 6, Amoni, 3, and 8-month-old Deon Jr. Only she and Darnell Jr. and the children's grandmother Rosetta Mitchell survived the fire.
Investigators concluded the fatal fire started in the upstairs bathroom and hallway area. But the official cause of the fire has not been determined yet, according to a released statement. Samples have been sent to the laboratory for testing.
Investigators are also trying to determine if there were working smoke detectors.
A memorial fund for the Glass Family has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank under the Account Number 1009683226.
Memorial services are also being set up for the four children Saturday, Jan. 19, 11 a.m. at Macedonia Baptist Church, 1052 Barton Street, Conyers, GA 30012.
Donations of clothing and household items for the family are also being coordinated by Pastor Billie Cox of Macedonia Baptist, who can be reached at 770-262-4076.
At Shoal Creek Elementary, where two of the victims and the surviving child attended school, students created cards for the family and survivors.
School counselors, teachers and administrators worked together to explain the situation to the children's classmates, said one parent, whose son was a classmate of Deshawn Glass. The principal also sent a recorded phone message to parents around 4 p.m.
In the afternoon, the school bus that the Glass children would have ridden dropped students back to their homes. The students on the bus pressed their faces silently to the window as they passed the burned out house.
(Jan. 9, 4:30 p.m.) What should have been a happy moving day has turned out to be a day of unbelievable tragedy for the family that lost four children in last night's house fire.
The family was due to move today to the townhomes at Eastmont on Rockbridge Road, across from the Rockdale Fire and Rescue Station and headquarters, said neighbors and family members. The mother's sister lived there and the oldest child, the only daughter out of five children, was finally set to get her own bedroom.
But the fast moving fire turned those dreams to ashes.
Lamonte Stroud, 18, a junior at Rockdale County High, and his older brother were in their living room a couple doors down on Tuesday night when they heard screaming outside and saw the house at 1149 Pinedale Circle on fire.
"The mom was just saying 'My babies, my babies.' That's all she was saying," said Stroud.
He knew the children well, as they would come to watch TV at his house and went to the same school, Shoal Creek Elementary, as his little sister.
"The little girl was at the window. It was too much for her, she was scared or something. She wouldn't jump," said Stroud.
He called 911 and then handed the phone to his brother as he ran into the house that was on fire. He started going up the staircase. "I almost got up to the top step but my brother he pulled me back."
So Stroud ran around to the back and got on top of a shed roof that allowed him to get next to the second story bathroom window, which he broke with his arm, he said. "I was yelling at them to come to the bathroom, but they didn't come."
He said all he could see was red from the flames but doesn't remember hearing the children.
"The flames were at least four feet tall. Stuff was just falling, cracking. It was real noisy."
The first officer on the scene was CPD Sgt. Bill Connell, who was working out of the CPD's North Annex just a few blocks away on Irwin Bridge Road.
He arrived to chaos, people running around and a woman telling him her babies were in the upstairs part of the house. The only windows without smoke and flames were in the back, where Stroud was.
Stroud had found a big stick and they broke in other back windows.
At that point, parts of the structure were falling down so Sgt. Connell told Stroud to get down.
Connell said he began looking for something to climb, like a ladder left nearby. Finding none, Connell grabbed a fire extinguisher and went in through the front door. He tried to go up the stairs, but the fire extinguisher only knocked back the flames for half a second, he said.
"The flames were so hot, so intense. It’s not like what you see in the movies, where you run through a little bit and you’re on the other side and everything’s fine. It was fully half of that upper floor," said Connell. "It’s incredibly frustrating. You’re looking for anything you can do, there’s nothing."
He began thinking of a way to back up his SUV to the house to climb on and reach the windows, but by that point firefighters had arrived.
Chante Hullum, 23, cousin to the mother, said she had gone to see her at Grady and that her cousin was still asking about her four babies last night. The 6-year-old boy was taken to Egleston and is doing well but was asking about his siblings, said Hullum.
The family did occasionally have small fires in the fire place, she said. Investigators are determining the origin of the fire.
The neighborhood is like a big family and news like this hits everyone hard, said Stroud. "The hardest part is telling my little sister her best friend is not going to come out to play."
Rockdale County Public Schools spokesperson Cindy Ball confirmed that there were grief counselors at the school Wednesday.
Shoal Creek Elementary Principal Joe Landerman said in a released statement, “We have lost two of the children of our Shoal Creek family and we are mourning. As a family, we support each other and will help each other in the coming days, weeks, and months. While our hearts are heavy, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and our surviving student who will need our continued love and support.”
RCPS Superintendent Richard Autry said, “This is truly a sad day for our entire community and our thoughts and prayers are with the family. We mobilized our crisis teams this morning upon learning that three of our students were involved in this unthinkable tragedy. We will continue to provide counseling and support services to our students, teachers, staff, and community as needed.”
George Levett Jr., the newly elected Coroner and director of the Levett and Sons Funeral Home, was on the scene and said he knew the family and would be offering to cover the cost of the funerals for the children. Offers have come in from several funeral homes as well.
There have already been eight fire fatalities in Georgia in this new year, said State Fire Marshal Gariss. That's compared to 72 in the whole year for 2012.
State Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens was also at the scene, as well as investigators from the State Fire Marshal's office, Conyers Police, Rockdale County Fire and Rescue and the ATF.
(Jan. 9, 9:30 a.m.) Four children were killed and one child and one adult injured in a fatal house fire at 1149 Pinedale Circle off of Irwin Bridge Road late Tuesday.
The four children killed were 8-months-old, 3-years-old, 7-years-old and 9-year-old. The three younger children were boys and the 9-year-old was a girl.
The call came into 911 shortly after 11 p.m. Conyers Police Department officers were the first to arrive and reportedly found the grandmother, mother and 6-year-old child standing outside. The upstairs portion of the two-story duplex was fully engulfed in flames, with flames coming out the bedroom windows.
The mother of the children was severely burned. Witnesses reportedly told officers the mother was able to throw one of the children out the second story window in an attempt to save him from the fire and then jumped out the window herself. A grandmother was reportedly downstairs at the time of the fire and was uninjured.
According to CPD Maj. Mike Waters, officers tried to go upstairs. "When officers arrived about 30 seconds after the initial call, they're trying as hard as they can to get upstairs. But the upper part of the house was completely involved. The fire was way too hot and it ran them back downstairs."
Rockdale firefighters arrived and sent in search teams after knocking back the fire, said Rockdale Fire and Rescue Chief Dan Morgan. The teams found the children, two victims in each of the two upstairs bedrooms, and tried to revive them, but to no avail.
The mother, who reportedly had severe burns on about 40 percent of her body, was initially flown by helicopter but had to be brought back and transported by ambulance to Grady due to weather.
Rockdale requested assistance from the State Fire Marshal and investigators are on the scene. Morgan said it was still being determined how the fire started and whether there was a working smoke alarm in the house at the time.
Waters said the community has been rallying around the family through this horrific tragedy. "It has been encouraging to to see the neighborhood all rally around the mother's family last night."
The other side of the duplex was vacant.
This is the sixth fire fatality in the past six months in Rockdale. A 78-year-old woman and 68-year-old man were killed in a house fire on Mountain View Circle, off of Irwin Bridge Road, in September.
(Jan. 9, 5:39 a.m.) IN BRIEF: Four children were killed and one child and one adult injured in a fatal house fire off Pinedale Circle late Tuesday.
According to reports, the four children killed - three boys and one girl - ranged in age from an infant to 7 years old. The mother of the children was severely burned but was able to throw one of the children out the second story window in an attempt to save them from the fire. A grandmother was uninjured. The mother was initially flown by helicopter but had to be brought back and transported by ambulance due to weather. The victims were reportedly transported to Grady Hospital, according to reports in the AJC.
Check back later for more on this developing story.