Tuesday morning fire claims four lives; 9-year-old boy only survivor

Page News and Courier

LURAY, April 19 — The Luray Volunteer Fire Department was called to 509 Fort Stover Road, about three miles outside of town, at 3:52 a.m. on Tuesday. Firefighters arrived to find the home fully ablaze.

The names of those involved have not been released at press time, but Luray Fire Chief Mark Lancaster confirmed that there were five individuals present at the time of the fire, with only one surviving.

"It was a mother, a father and two girls," Lancaster said. "The son made it out, a 9-year-old boy. He's fine. Other than that, I don't know."

Firefighters from the departments in Stanley, Shenandoah and South Warren assisted with the blaze, as well as the Luray Rescue Squad. It took nearly seven hours to put the fire out.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, though Lancaster said he does not suspect foul play.

"I believe it was started in the basement," Lancaster said. "I do not believe it was suspicious."

Sheriff Chad Cubbage's office is leading the investigation, and are being assisted by the Virginia State Police.

"At this time, the fire remains under investigation," Cubbage said. "The origin and cause are unknown. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the State Fire Marshall's Office say additional information will be released as the investigation allows."

Donna Whitley-Smith, superintendent of Page County schools, said that while she has not received official confirmation, she does believe that the two children who died in the fire were students in the Page County school system.

"We have a protocol in place for incidents such as this," Whitley-Smith said. "The guidance counselors mobilize to give support to the students, and the school psychologist is on hand."

She added that a letter has been sent to parents explaining what has possibly happened.

"We try very hard to include parents about what we have heard," Whitley-Smith said. "We are happy to provide parents with support and resources for their children who have questions. We encourage them to talk to the personnel at their kid's school."

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