Rockdale unites to assist family of tragic fire

CONYERS—A sorrowful Rockdale County is uniting to help the family who survived a fire that claimed four young children last night. Of the seven family members who were home when the fire broke out late Tuesday, only a 6-year-old boy, his mother, and grandmother survived, the family’s pastor said today.

The four children who perished have been identified as Ah’Dariya Glass, 9; Dar'shawn Glass, 7; Armoni Roberts, 3; and 7-month old Deon Glass. Their sibling, 6-year-old Darnell, survived after their mother, Reeba Glass, dropped him from a second-story window from the burning duplex, authorities said. The children’s grandmother, Rosetta Mitchell, escaped without injuries.

“The children’s mother is very broken. She’s struggling to understand what happened and why,” said Pastor Billie Cox, who heads Macedonia Baptist Church in Conyers and is the family’s pastor. “The grandmother is numb, but she is managing. She is having to plan the funerals of her grandchildren and support their mother.”

Mitchell, the grandmother, was visiting Glass at Grady Memorial Hospital this afternoon, but is expected to return to Conyers and stay with her sister, Cox said. Glass remained in critical condition at Grady, Cox said.

“She is really hurting. The pain of losing four of her children is greater than the burns she suffered,” Cox said. “She is so mournful. She was very tearful.”

When the fire broke out Tuesday around 11 p.m. at 1149 Pinedale Circle in Conyers, everyone in the house was sleeping, Rockdale Fire Chief Dan Morgan said. Authorities are still investigating to determine the cause, Morgan said.

Glass fought to save her children as the fire raged on the second floor of the duplex. So did, 18-year-old Lamonta Stroud, a neighbor who ran to the scene. Glass managed to reach her 6-year-old, Darnell, and drop him from a second-story window, witnesses said. Glass jumped behind Darnell, but went back in the house to try to save the other children and was overcome by smoke and flames.  Neighbors said Glass was badly burned. Authorities said she suffered burns over 40 percent of her body.

“The fire was intense,” said neighbor Leslie Slater. “Lamonta (pronounced La mon tay)  broke out a window and ran up the stairs to try and help the other kids. He cut his arm trying to get in. The smoke was pitch black and the fire was so hot that he had to run back out of the house.”

Slater said neighbors and Glass tried to get 9-year-old Ah’Dariya to jump from a bedroom window. Petrified, the little girl couldn’t, witnesses said.

6-year-old Darnell suffered a fractured arm after his mother dropped him from a window. He was treated at Children’s at Egleston Hospital and released into the custody of his father and grandparents in Atlanta, Cox said.

Levett Funeral Home in Conyers has offered funeral services for free to the family. A service is being planned for Saturday, Cox said.

Rockdale Coroner George Levett said his family has known the Glass family for years, providing services to many generations of them. He said he expects the funerals to be very sad.

“They are lifelong residents of Conyers, the same as us,” said Levett, whose family has operated funeral homes in DeKalb and Rockdale counties since 1950.

Levett said autopsies are being performed on the children who perished to determine the exact cause of death. He said the bodies were badly burned.

“There will be no viewings for the funerals,” Levett said.

Rockdale Commissioner Oz Nesbitt, who visited the scene this morning, said the community is reeling from the deaths.

“It’s a tragic day for Rockdale,” Nesbitt said. “To lose so many children this way, I don’t have words to express the loss.”

Rockdale’s Chairman of the Board Richard Oden said the county plans to do whatever it can to assist the family.

“This is a very unfortunate situation,” Oden said. “So we will wrap our arms around this family to ensure comfort during this time of tremendous loss.”

Cox said the Glass Family Memorial fund has been established at Wells Fargo Bank to assist the family. Contributions may be made at any Wells Fargo Bank.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.