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'It's a nightmare. I just wish is wasn't real'

December 10, 2006|by DON AINES

MARLOWE, W.VA. - "I watched my best friend burn to death," Mateeka Wolford said Saturday afternoon, leaning against a makeshift kennel in which several chow-mix puppies were playing.

A few yards away was the blackened rubble of what had been the mobile home of her friend, David "Spider" Clark Jr., who died less than a dozen hours earlier along with four other members of his family in a Saturday morning fire in the Sportsman's Paradise development.

"He would teach me to do better in my art," the girl said of her 40-year-old neighbor. "He was the main one to encourage me to do better. He wasn't supposed to die. He was supposed to be there for me to look up to."

"It's a nightmare. I just wish it wasn't real," said Cody Woods, who was standing by the kennel with Wolford and Sarah Huffman, a niece of David Clark.

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Combustible materials too close to a kerosene heater are being looked at by investigators as the suspected cause of the fire, according to the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department. Also killed in the fire were Clark's wife, Sherri McFillen Clark, 36, his son David, 10, Eyrn, 5, and Sherri Clark's 18-month-old granddaughter, Kimberlee Renee Fravel.

Crissanda Fravel, the mother of Kimberlee, was at work when the fire occurred, said her father, John Fravel. Sherri Clark was Crissanda's mother, he said.

Crissanda later walked up to the kennel, picked up one of the puppies and walked away holding it to her chest.

"A great father. A great stepfather," Fravel said of David Clark. He called Sherri Clark "an extremely good mother."

"Both of them were loving grandparents of their newborn grandchild," said Fravel, who lives just a couple of houses away from where his granddaughter, Kimberlee, died.

Sherri Clark previously had worked at Wal-Mart, but had not been employed for a year or more, Fravel said.

David Clark's parents "are devastated," John Fravel said. "They lost their son, daughter-in-law, two grandchildren and a great-grandchild."

"People need to know how hard he worked to provide for his family," said Wendy Churchey of Hagerstown, who worked with Clark at Outdoor Express RV in Falling Waters, W.Va. "They were a very committed family."

Sherri Clark and the children sometimes would come by the business and wait for David Clark to finish work, Churchey said. He was a mechanic and had worked there several months, she said.

"Spider didn't have much, but what he had, he was proud of," Churchey said.

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