An electric space heater in the Grantville home of Samantha and Kenneth Boynton led to the death of two of their seven children.
The fire started around daybreak Jan. 9. Five-year-old Gracie and 9-year-old Ansley -- who slept in the same room -- did not make it out, despite their father’s desperate attempts to break through the outside window.
On Feb. 12, Christ Community Church will host a memorial and benefit concert for the Boynton family. The JJ Weeks Band of Macon will lead in worship, along with local musician Garrett Lee and emcee Sam Bemon.
“We’ve done a lot of benefit concerts but this is probably going to be one of the toughest,” J.J. Weeks said in a recent phone interview from Macon.
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In addition to their parents, Ansley and Gracie are survived by brothers Thomas Alexander “Alex” Boynton and Andrew Jacob “Mack” Boynton; sisters Tabatha Leigh Ann Boynton; Mallory Vince Patrick Boynton; and Brianna Marie Boynton; and grandparents Glenda Hugi and Lee Stamps Hugi.
The house was on 194 Roger Arnold Road, west of I-85. Grantville is southwest of Newnan.
The fire started in the back bedroom, where brothers Mack, 15, and Alex, 12, were sleeping.
“They got up because they heard it pop. It woke them up,” said their mother Samantha, who goes by Sam.
Mack went throughout the house, yelling. Alex got out through a window. Tabatha, 17, woke up. Then Sam and Kenneth woke up. Everybody got out but Ansley and Gracie.
“It had spread so fast we couldn’t get to them,” said Sam, whose youngest child is 15 months.
Kenneth went outside to try to break through the window. He cut his hand pretty badly, and his hair was singed off, she said.
Fire trucks came, but it was too late.
The Boyntons were taken to Piedmont Newnan Hospital for treatment and observation.
After treatment, the Boyntons stayed several days at the Jameson Inn in Newnan, compliments of the Red Cross. They’ve since relocated to another house in Grantville.
The family are members of East Newnan Baptist Church. That church and other churches, organizations and individuals have pitched in with direct assistance.
“Financial assistance, clothes, food, everything,” Sam Boynton said. “It’s hard to mention everything because a lot of people have helped.”
Ansley’s class at Grantville Elementary recently gave Sam a book. Inside, Ansley had drawn a picture of a Walmart and two other buildings. She imagined that in 15 years she’d be a billionaire, living in a house with 100 rooms. She’d have access to 100 limousines, she wrote.
The book’s colors are black and pink and purple. In addition, the school released balloons with messages on Ansley’s birthday, Jan. 28.
Cindy Hart, Kenneth Boynton’s cousin, said nothing in the house was fire-rated. She described it as an older “ranch-style house with carpet on carpet.”
“It’s a pretty sad story,” she said, “but they have strong faith. Kenneth said he blacked out and had a dream that two girls were dancing with Jesus. I’m sure it’s hard and they have their moments, but they’re holding strong in faith.”
Their mother said the sisters were always happy. Ansley’s favorite color was pink. Gracie’s was blue.
“They were like best friends,” Sam said. “And they loved butterflies.”