Gloucester responds to tragic fire

Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Jan 18, 2013 - 11:47 AM

Photo: Three young children and their grandmother died in this Gloucester house fire early Wednesday. First responders said the house on Summerville Drive was fully engulfed when they arrived on scene. Photo courtesy Gloucester Sheriff's Office

Three young children and their grandmother died in this Gloucester house fire early Wednesday. First responders said the house on Summerville Drive was fully engulfed when they arrived on scene. Photo courtesy Gloucester Sheriff's Office

The Gloucester community has begun to rally around the family that suffered the loss of three children and their grandmother in an early-morning fire Wednesday on Summerville Drive, with a donation drive underway and a candlelight vigil planned for tonight.

The Gloucester Sheriff’s Office has released the names of the victims. They are Thomas Grogan, 7; Michael Grogan, 2; Gabriel Grogan, 6 months and Virginia Grogan, 54.

Gloucester sheriff Darrell Warren said that it appears that the medical examiner’s final report will take a great deal of time due to the lack of dental records of the victims so DNA testing will be conducted for positive identification.

In regard to the cause and origin of the fire, Warren said the Virginia State Police has agreed to be the lead investigating agency. “We continue to believe that this fire appears to be accidental,” Warren added.

How to help

The family’s pastor, Ken Waclo of Bellamy United Methodist Church, said a fund has been set up within the church to give money directly to the Grogans. He asked that donations be mailed to Bellamy United Methodist Church, 4870 Chestnut Fork Road, Gloucester, Va., 23061 and should be identified “Grogan Family Fund.”

Waclo said all money that goes into this fund will be accounted for and every penny donated will go to the family.

Waclo said that the church will also serve as a collection center for the family, accepting food and clothing Tuesday through Friday of next week during normal business hours of 9 a.m. until noon. He emphasized that no household goods and no furniture will be accepted.

“The family appreciates the outpouring of love and support it has received from the community,” Waclo said. “And they appreciate your respect of privacy during this trying time.”

Waclo said Bellamy United Methodist Church continues to provide pastoral support for the family during its time of crisis. “I just baptized Gabriel last month,” Waclo said. “We’re just trying to do the work of the church for this family.”

Waclo also said he has an amazing appreciation of the firefighters Wednesday morning. “I have great admiration and gratitude for the work they do,” he said. “They’re a dedicated group of people.”

He said he was blessed to pray with them that morning out in the mud. “They’re husbands, wives, sons and daughters and do everything they can … Wednesday was just an impossible day.”

Bethel Elementary School, the school Thomas attended, is also collecting money that will be given through the Bellamy Church fund, according to assistant principal Shannon Auche. The school’s PTA will also be donating 100 percent of the proceeds from next Thursday’s Chick-fil-A fundraiser to the Grogan family. That event will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Gloucester restaurant.

Candlelight vigil

 Local resident Crystal Bowman has coordinated a candlelight vigil for the family, which is scheduled for tonight, beginning at 7 p.m. in the parking lot adjacent to Tractor Supply behind Hardee’s at the courthouse.

Bowman said it should be about an hour long and will include several passages being read from the Bible and a message from Waclo. A song will also be performed that was specifically written for the Grogan family by a local resident. There will also be a balloon launch at the end of the service.

Bowman said a donation jar will be available at the vigil to collect gift cards, checks and donations for the family.

She asked that there be no photography or videos of the service, and pleaded for continued support of the family’s privacy.

Bowman said she will also be coordinating various fundraising efforts over the next few weeks.