Victims of deadly Crawford Co. fire identified


by Adam Walser

Posted on February 7, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 7 at 7:30 PM

CRAWFORD COUNTY, Ind. (WHAS11) -- An early morning fire claimed five lives near English in rural Crawford County, Ind.

"We discovered that three adults and two children had perished in the fire," Crawford County Sheriff Tim Wilkerson said.

"They were just really good people, down to earth, good country folks," family friend Tim Gephart said.

The fire started at around 1a.m. Thursday. Firefighters from English, Marengo and Leavenworth responded to the scene, but the mobile home was totally engulfed in flames by the time they arrived.

Jay Denton, 32, and his 8-year-old daughter Kara and his half brother 35-year-old Billy Turben have been identified as victims. Denton's girlfriend and her three year old son, who have not been identified, also died.

Denton's father John attempted to save them after seeing fire coming from the mobile home. The flames were too intense for him to enter the home.

John Denton lived about 100 feet from his son.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Indiana Fire Marshal's Office. Local authorities say they believe it likely started from a wood stove.

"This is by far the worst tragedy that I've ever experienced in 16 years in law enforcement," Sheriff Wilkerson said.

"What this means to the community is sadness for quite a while. There's no doubt about that," Gephart said.

Gephart says Jay Denton used a wood stove to heat his mobile home home to save money on his heating bill.

"He didn't have a whole lot. He did what he could. He worked every day. He worked in Marengo at the Cave," Gephart said.

Gephart says Kara was the joy of Jay's life and stayed with her father every Wednesday night.

"She was full of life. She could make you smile when you didn't feel like smiling, like right now," said Gephart. "They're in shock, disbelief, grieving,"