Vigil held for family who died in fatal fire

Telegraph staffJune 14, 2013 

The community came out in force Friday night to support a family who lost four of its members in a Thursday fire at their Lynmore Estates home.

More than 100 people gathered at the Countryside Baptist Church for a vigil for the family of Jennifer Caffee, who with her three daughters, 13-year-old Elizabeth Caffee, 10-year-old Wendy Chapman and 5-year-old Holly Tucker, died early Thursday morning in the fire.

Rayford Johnson, the pastor at the church, started the vigil by leading the group from the church, down Carmen Place to the children’s grandmother’s house a few doors away.

The group crowded in the driveway and the street with candles in hand, and the light was passed from person to person. After a prayer was said, the pastor spoke about the senselessness of the tragedy and about each of the girls.

“We have lost a jewel, four jewels, and we will miss them greatly,” he said.

Injured in the fire were James Tucker, who goes by Lee, and Caffee’s sons 15-year-old Scott and 17-year-old Brandon.

Timothy Thompson, 15, considers the Caffee brothers his best friends in the world.

“It’s just good to know so many people care about my friends,” he said.

Investigators pinpoint where fire started; info not released

Macon-Bibb County firefighters received the 911 call at 2:08 a.m. and arrived five minutes later.

Tucker was outside with Caffee’s sons by the time firefighters arrived, Macon-Bibb County Fire investigator Ben Gleaton said Friday.

The first body was recovered by 3:50 a.m., but it was after 5 a.m. before the brick duplex cooled enough that it was safe for crews to remove the other three.

After two days of investigation, Gleaton said he’s pinpointed the area where the fire started, but that information is not being released. The fire later went into the attic and spread to the rest of the duplex.

Flames also destroyed the other side of the duplex. A woman with an amputated leg escaped through a window.

The cause of the blaze still is under investigation. Firefighters haven’t said whether they consider the fire suspicious or accidental.

The property owner’s insurance company also has launched an investigation. Firefighters may glean information from their findings, Gleaton said.

Gleaton said he interviewed Tucker on Friday, but also wants to talk with Scott Caffee, more neighbors and anyone who might have passed by the house early Thursday morning. Anyone with information is asked to call 751-2713.

Tucker, 38, and Brandon Caffee were released from the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta on Thursday, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Scott Caffee was listed in good condition at The Medical Center of Central Georgia on Friday afternoon.

Fire investigators found no evidence of working smoke detectors at the house.

The American Red Cross has helped the Caffees’ neighbors find temporary housing in a motel and to buy food and clothing since their half of the duplex also was destroyed.

“We’re working with them to make sure they’ll have a long-term recovery plan,” said Donna Lee, Emergency Services Program Manager for Macon’s Red Cross chapter.

The Red Cross also has been in contact with the Caffee family and will help provide them with aid.

If requested, the agency may be able to help provide some funding for funeral expenses, Lee said.

Countryside Baptist Church has established a fund to collect money for the Caffees at SunTrust Bank.

The family had no insurance and lost everything in the fire.

Anyone wishing to donate to the family’s fund can write a check marked Countryside Baptist Church for Jennifer Caffee’s family.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this story. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398. To contact writer Jaime Williams, call 744-4331.

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