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'Pray': As Father Tried Desperately to Help, House Fire Took Lives of Christian Mom and Six Children

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Tragedy struck Clinton, Miss., early Saturday morning when a fire tore through a local rental home, killing a mother and her six children, despite the father's efforts to get them out of the house. 

WAPT-TV reports the fire started as a result of an electrical problem in the attic according to the state fire marshal. It has been ruled accidental. 

Clinton is located 10 miles northwest of Jackson, Miss. The City of Clinton identified the victims in a Facebook post as Brittany Presley, 33; Lane, 13; Lawson, 12; Grayson, 6; Malcolm, 4; Felicity, 1; and Landon Brookshire, 15.

The city's post continued, "Once arrangements and opportunities for support are provided, we will share on this page. Until then, please continue to pray for this family and our first responders." 

Jake Presley, the father, suffered smoke inhalation, burns, cuts, and bruises, authorities said. Presley is recovering at a local hospital. 

In an email to CBN News Tuesday night, Lisa Williams, a friend of the Presley's who created the family's GoFundMe page, said Presley was able to sit up and talk on Tuesday. However, she did not mention if his condition had been downgraded from critical. The Clarion-Ledger reported as of Tuesday morning Presley was still in the hospital's burn unit and was expected to undergo surgery.

Williams said other family members are waiting on him to recover, so he can attend the funeral services for his family. 

Blackledge told the New York Times Presley's injuries were the result of attempting to save his family.

"He actually went in and told them to follow him," he said. "He was going to lead them outside, and when he got to the door and outside, the children were not with him."

Officials said there were no working smoke alarms in the house. Investigators said metal bars installed on the windows in the house to prevent burglars may have prevented the victims from escaping since the bars to do not open easily from the inside, according to WAPT.

The Presley family were members of the Raymond Road Baptist Church in Jackson. On Sunday, church members prayed for the family during services. 

"They say you're not supposed to question God, but how can you have anything like this happen and not ask why?" family friend Lynn Lee told the television station. 

"The only way you can cope with this is just to give it to the Lord," church deacon Bill Dubard told WAPT. "And say, 'Look, take it from me. We can't do this on our own'."

Brittany Presley was a second-grade teacher at Reuben B. Myers School of Arts & Sciences in Canton. 

"The best thing we can do is be positive and know that Ms. Presley is looking down on us and loving us, and we're going to do everything in our power to make her smile," said Principal Alphia Myers.

According to The Clarion-Ledger, the family had been living in the house for 10 to 12 years. 

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the Presley medical and funeral expenses.

As of Tuesday, it had raised more than $79,000 towards its $100,000 goal.

The Raymond Road Baptist Church is also accepting donations to help with the family's needs.

Donations can be mailed to:

Jake Presley Fund
c/o Raymond Road Baptist Church
4622 Raymond Road
Jackson, MS 39212

CBN News has reached out to the leadership of the Raymond Road Baptist Church in Jackson for comment. 

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of