Community celebrates fire victims with homecoming celebration



Posted on February 15, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Updated Sunday, Feb 16 at 10:45 AM

GREENVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Dozens of Muhlenburg County residents welcomed home the sole survivors of a fatal house fire in Greenville, Kentucky Saturday.

Chad Watson and his 11-year-old daughter, Kylie, drove behind a police escort, as they passed by a sea of purple balloons and “Watson Strong” t-shirts from Muhlenberg County High School’s West Campus to Calvary Baptist Church, in Central City.

Chad and Kylie were the only survivors of a Jan. 30 house fire that took the lives of Chad’s wife, Nikki, and their eight other children. A fire marshal pinpointed the cause to an electric baseboard heater.

The pair spent the last two weeks recovering from their injuries at Vanderbilt Medical Center, in Nashville, TN.

Saturday’s drive home was a first for Kylie, just released from the hospital on Friday, a day after her father.

"Kylie has a long road ahead of her. This is just the beginning of her healing emotionally. This is just one way we’re letting her know that she is not alone, that the community is behind her,” Jeanetta House, Gail Johnson, event organizer and Muhlenburg County School board of education member, said.

Chad and Kylie, both with smiles on their faces, were greeted by friends and family holding signs of love and encouragement. Purple balloons, Kylie’s favorite color, released into the air as the Watson’s drove past.

"I think that her family wanted her to feel that love and support and so to be able to throw something together quickly, and do what we could, even in such a small way, hopefully she was able to experience that support and love,” a Muhlenburg County resident said.

The homecoming celebration continued at the church, where Chad is a minister.

The community has planned a celebration of life ceremony on Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. on the west campus of Muhlenburg County High School. Chad is expected to speak at the event.

The family's church has released a statement thanking everyone for their participation:

“Thank you to all who came out to support Chad and Kylie Watson's homecoming and show your love to them, as well as their extended family. I know they were so overwhelmed and thankful. Please continue to keep them in your prayers!”