The community gathered at The Angel Hills Funeral Chapel on Rochester's east side Saturday to remember the young victims of a fire last month on Grape Street. YNN's Mary McCombs was at that service and she joins us from the newsroom with more.
Earlier this week, funeral services were held in Elmira for four children, all siblings, who had moved from Elmira to Rochester last November. They died two weeks ago when their Grape Street home caught fire. Members of the tight knit community came together for a service to remember the young victims.
"I welcome you this morning with not grief nor sorrow, but rejoice in this morning.”
They came to cry.
"May we come and glorify your name today."
To pray and to sing.
"Father Alone will."
To remember four young lives lost in a tragic house fire last month.
"You want to get people together for a grieving period of time, you know, to hold hands to clap our hands, to smile, to tell stories about the family, the kids," said Thomas Gainey, Funeral Director.
Thomas Gainey opened up his funeral home on St. Paul Street in Rochester to help the community celebrate and honor the lives of the four children. He said the Grape Street fire hits close to home.
"When I was six years old, had a real close friend of mine, we were in the first grade together, and I came to school the next day and the family told me there was fire in his house and he died. It just tore my heart apart," Gainey said.
Gainey was among those in our community to reach out and offer help to the family.
Firefighters were originally called to the home for a report of a rubbish fire outside the house. But a check of the home turned up flames and smoke coming from the first floor. Four children were trapped on the second floor. Killed in the blaze were 14-year-old Gage Reavey, 13-year-old Greg Kugler, his 12-year-old sister Kandee and 6-year-old brother Kaiden. Kandee and Kaiden both attended School Number 5 in Rochester.
"Kaiden was a complete delight to have in class and Kandee, my memories of her, she was always eager and full of life," said teacher Edie Kash. "They're our students and no matter how short of a span we might have them, we always care for those students who come before us."
Members of the community say although the service will give them some closure, the fire on Grape Street has forever changed their lives.
"I still drive by, I sit there and just look at the house. I'm trying to get some closure in my life so I can move on."
Thomas Gainey said the passing of such promising young lives should remind people to love their own families a little bit more, because each and every life is so precious.