Three children dead and two on life support after Thursday’s fire in Opelika

Local News


01/13/17 3:30 P.M. — The names of the three children that died in the house fire Thursday afternoon have been released.

  • 11-year-old Zakikia Core
  • 7-year-old Atira Core
  • 3-year-old Karmina Core

The two children that were transported to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham are:

  • 9-year-old Keiyonna Core
  • 3-year-old Bryson Core

Opelika City Council and City Administration have set up the “Core Memorial Fund.” The fund is set up at the AuburnBank – Opelika branch to the Core Family with financial expenses.

You can send your donations to:

AuburnBank – Opelika Branch 215 South 6th Street Opelika, AL 36801

At a press conference on Friday, Opelika Police Chief John McEachern, Fire Chief Byron Prather and Lee County Coroner Bill Harris provided the media with more information about Thursday night’s tragedy.

They said that the Opelika Fire Department, Police and the Alabama Fire Marshal’s Office are in the early stages of the investigation. They said they have gathered some evidence after the fire, and some more during the investigation on Friday.

Chief McEachern said “because of the seriousness and serious nature of this case, we will take our time and conduct a very thorough investigation. We will exercise a great deal of due diligence and an abundance of caution during the conducting of the investigation. The victims in this case deserve nothing less than our greatest efforts.”

They added that the location of the mother is unknown, but she arrived minutes after the fire was reported and received first and second degree burns trying to save her children.

The first units arrived to the scene three minutes after the call came in, and as soon as they arrived, the rescue and firefighting efforts began.

“I saw many tears in the eyes of many firefighters, police officers and paramedics and emergency first responders,” Chief McEachern said. “Anyone that was there was touched by this. This is a tragic event, and I think it’s time that we respect the privacy of the family in their mourning.”

News Three spoke to Johnny Hughley who lives in the neighborhood. He said he saw one of the responders carry out one of the five children, and said as a father, it was a sight he will never forget.

“It makes you want to get up and call your child, hug your child,” Hughley said. “If you aren’t staying with them, it makes you want to pick that phone up. If you’re staying with them, it makes you want to pick them up and say I love you.”

“We are all one big family,” Chief McEachern said. “This is not New York, LA population wise. We are a close-knit community, and I know the community will come forward and support this family in this tragic loss.”

Since the case involves the death of a child, it is required to go before a Lee County Grand Jury, but Chief McEachern said he does not anticipate any arrests being made.

Opelika City Schools also released the following statement:

“The Opelika City Schools family, especially the students and staff at Southview Primary School and Northside Intermediate School, are extremely sad today as we grieve the loss of the children who died yesterday.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the family members, our community and the first responders who were at the scene.”    Dr. Mark Neighbors, OCS Superintendent

01/12/17 11:17 P.M. — Lee County Coroner Bill Harris says three children have died after a house fire in Opelika.

A total of five children were pulled from the house. The other two children are in critical condition at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.

The names of the victims are not being released at this time.

OPELIKA, Ala. — Opelika Police say multiple people are at East Alabama Medical Center after a fire late this afternoon at the Emmanuel Trailer Park on South Long Street.

Opelika Police received the call just after 4 p.m. Central Time. When crews arrived, the house was fully engulfed in flames.

Crews on scene tell News 3  multiple people were trapped inside the house and rescued from the home.

The state fire marshal has been called to investigate the case, and crews from the Opelika Fire and Police Department say they will be on scene all night.

Details are limited at this time, but News Three will bring more details as they are made available.

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