A funeral will be held on Friday for a father and four children killed in an upstate New York house fire.
There also will be a public visitation Thursday at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church in Watertown for Aaron Bodah and his daughters: 4-year-old Skylar; 6-year-old Erin; 8-year-old Alexa and 14-year-old Merissa.
A fifth daughter, 13-year-old Hailey, survived after escaping from the burning home Thursday around 1:30 a.m. She ran to neighbors for help.
Community members attended a prayer vigil outside the house on Monday night, according to WWNY .
“I can see our father in heaven … his heart is broken,” said Parkside Bible Church Pastor Mike Gerhardt.
“They were just the sweetest girls,” said Watertown teacher Erin Weston. “They loved each other so much. You always saw them walking hand in hand. They loved school; they always had a smile on their face.”
“It just shows that our community really stands by each other when something tragic happens,” said Weston.
Amid their grief, loved ones tried to focus on the moments of joy.
Aaron Bodah, who worked on local construction projects, enjoyed hunting, fishing and cooking. But being a dad was his top priority.
Skylar, the family’s youngest, loved singing and ponies. Erin, a first-grader, sang, too, and also danced. Alexa, a second-grader, was a fan of video games and superheroes. Merissa, a ninth-grader, liked doing makeup with their mom, Melissa Davey, also of Watertown.
Investigators said it appeared the fire started in the kitchen where pots were left on the electric stove. They said smoke detectors had no batteries.
“We must take the lessons taught to us by this event and come together,” said Fire Chief Dale Herman, “not only to support those family and friends in their grief but also to help our neighbors and responders return to their new routines and prevent future tragedy such as this from occurring in our homes.”