UPDATE:  As Jasper Middle School students leave for Winter Break, they will try to cope with the loss of one of their classmates, just a week before Christmas.

Sixth-grader Jacob Watts was killed in a house fire on Judy Dr. on Thursday morning. Four other family members were able to escape. His mother was airlifted to a burn unit.

"Any time you lose a child, it's tough. But especially this time of year," said Dr. Mark Griffith, Marion Co. Director of Schools.

Friday was the last day of school before Winter Break. Teachers broke the news to students during a school assembly Thursday afternoon.

"You do have a two week break here, but this is going to be an everlasting thing that you have to deal with," said Griffith.

Grievance counselors were on site at the middle school and high school, where Watts' older sister attends. She escaped the burning home, along with their mother, Denise Belk, and two adult family members.

Belk was airlifted to a burn unit in Augusta and was in surgery on Friday, according to the family's Go Fund Me website. It says, "Our hearts break knowing what she will go through with the passing of her son."

"It's just heartbreaking to see the children and their reaction to losing such a special young man," Griffith said.

Teachers described Watts as an "upbeat" kid who talked about how excited he was for Christmas.

Kimball Police Sgt. Chris Webb was first on the scene.

"By the time we got here, it was fully engulfed," said Webb. "Most of the family was already out in the yard when we got here, still on the phone with 911."


Officers returned to the house, trying to track down any of the family's 13 animals lost in the fire.

"Just trying to see if we can round any up, see what survived, escaped, whatever," Webb said. "There's some dogs, some cats, a squirrel. We're just trying to find anything we can for the mom."

Fire investigators are still working to determine a cause. Officials say they do not believe the home had working smoke detectors.

School administrators will have counselors on hand for grieving students when they return from their two-week break.

PREVIOUS STORY: Channel 3 has learned the name of the child killed in a morning house fire in Marion County.

Channel 3 has confirmed, 12-year-old Jacob Watts died as a result of the fire that destroyed his family's home.

Marion County Sheriff Bo Burnett tells Channel 3 that two adults and three children were inside the home when the fire broke out shortly after 5:00am.

A man and two children were able to escape the blaze unharmed. A woman was burned and transported to Erlanger for treatment.

Jacob did not make it out in time. He was a student at Jasper Middle School.

It's still not clear what sparked the fire that broke out while the family was sleeping.

Stay with Channel 3 and WRCBtv.com for more on this developing story.

PREVIOUS STORY: Marion County dispatch confirm firefighters are working an active house fire.

It happened in the 200 block of Judy Drive. An update on the condition of those inside the home is expected this morning.

Details are limited at this time however we do have a crew on the way to scene.