Five-year-old Chattooga Co. fire victim makes picture for firefi - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports


Five-year-old Chattooga Co. fire victim makes picture for firefighters days before death

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It was a touching discovery after a terrible tragedy. Summerville firefighters received a special gift from the family of six people killed in a mobile home fire.

Last week, firefighters stopped by 5-year-old Clair Jones' class to teach fire safety. That's when she made a special picture for firefighters, just days before she and her family lost their lives.

Firefighters say this one picture, and the little girl who created it, will always hold a special place in their hearts.

The fire engine, made of construction paper, now means the world to Summerville firefighters.

"It's pretty tough. It really is, knowing we were there with that girl last week, and knowing we had an impact with her," said Summerville Fire Chief Robbie Lathem.

Clair Jones, 5, created the picture. She was one of six people killed in a mobile home fire earlier this week.

READ MORE | UPDATE: Six including four children dead in Chattooga County fire

When family members went to her school to retrieve her belongings, they found the picture.

"They wanted to present it to us. They said they thought she would've appreciated us having it," Lathem said.

This week has been tough for the entire community. The fire still weighs heavily on the hearts of first responders.

"You deal with fatalities," Lathem said. "You deal with them in wrecks, and you deal with them on medical calls. It's maybe one person, or two people. But when it comes to six, and four of them being children, that's a pretty tough pill to swallow."

"It was pretty rough, knowing that we had dealt with her, and that she thought enough of us to make that," said Summerville Fire Sgt. Scott Lewis, who visits local schools to teach kids fire safety.

Clair's pre-kindergarten class was his most recent stop.

"We just try to go through with them, crawling low under smoke, listening for smoke detectors, what to do if your clothes catch on fire, safe meeting places, basic stuff for kids," he said.

The department plans to ramp up fire prevention education efforts to help prevent this kind of heartbreak.

Firefighters also plan to frame Clair's picture at the station. Keeping her memory alive and finding motivation through tragedy.

"Some guys are really wanting that reminder, to make sure that we stay motivated at what we're doing, and not slack at our jobs," said Lathem.

Since the fire, firefighters said they've taken many calls from homeowners who want help installing smoke detectors inside their homes. It's something the department will do for free.

The Trion Fire Department is hosting a benefit to raise money for the Jones family. The event will be at the Trion Park at Central Avenue and Simmons Street from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

READ MORE | Benefit for Chattooga Co. fire victims to be held Saturday

Organizers said they'll have food, live music, and the department will share fire prevention tips. Donations for the Jones family will be taken during the event.

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