Grandfather reflects on lives of girls killed in Flora house fire

WLFI File Photo
WLFI File Photo

FLORA, Ind. (WLFI) — Instead of preparing to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with his four granddaughters, Tracie Rose is planning their funerals.

As Rose mourns their lives, he’s cherishing the time he had with them.

“I’m empty,” explained Rose. “It’s just that simple.”

Rose was on vacation in Tennessee when, around 4 a.m. Monday, he got a life-changing phone call.

“There’s just so many words to describe all of them,” he said.

That call was to inform Rose his four granddaughters had died in a house fire.

“Through the good,” he said. “Through the bad, they never separated.”

The fire claimed the life of 5-year-old Kionnie Welch.

“That was my baby,” said Rose. “She was very smart.”

It took the life of 7-year-old-Kerriele McDonald.

“She was just my soldier,” he said.

Nine-year-old Keyara Phillips also died.

“Keyara was a very special girl, “explained Rose. “Special in her own way.”

And 11-year-old Keyanna Davis was also taken.

“She was not only a leader, but that was my daughter’s best friend,” he said.

Now Rose said he’s staying strong so he can help his daughter, Gaylin Rose, deal with the loss of her children.

“She’s got to be strong,” he said. “For herself. Now you’ve got another chance. You’ve got to make a positive decision.”

Rose says all four girls were active. Kerriele was a cheerleader and Keyanna was his star basketball player. He said they all left a lasting impression on anyone they met.

“My girls [were] always happy,” explained Rose. “Spunky. I don’t have that no more. I don’t have no second job, no more. My second job was my best job — that was my babies.”

Rose said he’s relying on his faith to get him through.

“I’ve been through the storm, but I can just say you gotta trust,” explained Rose. “If a person don’t trust in Him, then who are you going to trust in?”

He hopes to use the tragedy to encourage others to teach their children what to do when there’s a fire and how to escape.

“We all can learn something cause it’s never too late to learn,” he added. “Especially, for the ones who have a chance.”

Rose said funeral arrangements are pending for his granddaughters.

He thinks Gaylin should be released from the hospital Wednesday or Thursday.