By: Shelley Bortz

NEW CASTLE (KDKA) – Family and friends of a mom, her daughter, and a friend killed in a tragic fire in New Castle gathered on Sunday night for a candlelight vigil.

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“On behalf of the whole New Castle Area School District, board of directors, and the whole community, to know how saddened we are about this and our deepest sympathies and we’ll always be here for them,” said Debbie DeBlasio, the superintendent of the New Castle School District.

Dozens came together in the gym of New Castle High School to remember three women who were killed in an early morning house fire just days after Christmas; Courtney Payne, her daughter Terianna Payne-Hicks, and her friend X’Zavia Booker.

A sea of candles lit the gymnasium as loved ones sobbed and held one another while remembering their loved ones.

Courtney’s sisters and Terianna’s aunts were on hand to represent the family.

“My mom can’t believe the outpouring of love she just thinks we have the greatest community to have come together during this tragedy and sharing in our sorrows because this was sudden and the outpouring of love,” said Nicole Payne.

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The fire happened in the early morning hours of December 29 on West Clayton Street in New Castle and is still under investigation.

X’Zavia Booker was a recent graduate of Laurel High School and her family said she was about to start college.

Terianna Payne-Hicks was a student and cheerleader in the New Castle Area School District.

Sunday night, her teammates presented her aunts with balloons, flowers, and her letterman jacket.

The family felt they needed to remind people of the importance of fire safety.

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“I just have to stress enough about fire extinguishers and fire alarms,” LeAnne Payne said. “I don’t want their memory to go without the safety precautions. Get your fire extinguishers, get your alarms, cause this is tragic.”