Community Lays Children Killed in Fire To Rest

By: Whitney Daniel
By: Whitney Daniel

Friendsville, TN (WVLT)- A community prepares to say goodbye to four children who lost their lives in a deadly fire in Friendsville last week.
Many say they aren't surprised to see this kind of compassion for the Debuty family coming from the Blount County community.

Family, friends, and neighbors...even strangers...have rallied around this family and showed an outpouring of love and support.

"When you lose children, it's such a tragedy," said Glenda Ledbetter.

Ross and Amanda Debuty lost four. Now, the community is standing strong behind this broken family.

"They hurt for them, they hurt with them, the empathy we experience when things like this happen," said Dr. Mark Grubb.

Hundreds of family and friends pour into Smith Mortuary to lend a shoulder to cry on. Among them are dozens who've never met the Debuty's, but are touched by their story and want to show support.

"Anybody with a heart is gonna wanna help after a tragedy like this," said Lt. Tim Ogle of the Blount County Fire Department.

"You just want to do anything you can to try to ease that pain and suffering that the parents are going through at this time," said Dr. Grubb.

And those who have kids of their own say they can't begin to know what the parents are going through.

"I just broke down... it just broke my heart," said Ledbetter. "For two or three days just thinking about those poor little children and their mother and daddy, because I'm a mother, I know."

Many say this tragedy has shown others that the Blount County community is an extented family.

"The Bible says, 'Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.' And when you have that sense of belonging in that community, when one of us hurts we all hurt," said Dr. Grubb.

So as the community begins to heal...

"God bless 'em...they're in our prayers," said Ledbetter.

...they need your help.

"Just ask everybody throughout our land to keep them in their prayers and lift them up to the good Lord above," said Glen Hunt.

The community isn't finished showering the debuty's with their love.

You can attend a benefit concert next Sunday at the Kennedy Band Center in Knoxville. Admission is $7.00 and all the proceeds go to the Debuty family.

Over the weekend, emergency responders sponsoring a "Boots and Buckets Fundraiser" collected more than $35,000 for the family.

A small testimony to the compassion this community is showing for their neighbors in need.


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