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Community rallies to support surviving parents of house fire


The community is rallying around a local family as they grieve the loss of three children to a house fire early Monday, Nov. 13. Firefighters on scene reported that the adults at the house made it out to safety as crews tried to get into the burning home in the 1600 block of Conklin Road, but the flames were too strong and the house was reported as a complete loss. 

Daniel and Carissa Smythe lost their three children, Ethan (16), Danny (13) and Bella (12), who were students in the Marshfield school system. The schools have arranged for counseling services for students in the wake of the deaths.

"Losing a student is never something you expect to happen, but it is a reality for Marshfield teachers today. We lost three students at once, one of whom brightened my morning with her laugh each day. I’m left speechless as I think about the future of my classroom without her," said Bella's teacher, Mrs. Shannon Carter. "Please pray for this family and the teachers and students of Marshfield as we navigate this tragedy. These students were loved by many and will be missed by all who knew them."

Later on Monday, Carissa’s brother, Adam Cole, arranged a GoFundMe which surpassed its $50,000 goal with over $63,000 in donations from more than 550 people in its first day active. Offerings of support and words of empathy have poured in for the family, who are preparing to venture into the next phase of their grieving journey. 

According to Cole, Daniel and Carissa did not have home or life insurance on the children. 

“Because Daniel had recently changed jobs, there were no life insurance policies on the three children. Additionally, the home was not insured either,” Cole wrote. “To lose a house is devastating. To experience the loss of a home to a fire while you're in it with your family barely out of reach is unimaginable. To lose a child is one of the worst experiences fathomable. To lose all three at the same time? There. are. no. words. On this horrific day, my family experienced all of this with no apparent financial recourse ahead of them.”

Cole explained that the donations would help with funeral costs, counseling expenses, food, shelter, clothing, medication, rebuilding their home and other unexpected expenses they have yet to consider.

“Ethan, Danny, and Bella were so beautiful and we miss them dearly. We know and understand that money isn't going to bring them back. However, it will help equip Carissa and Daniel with the tools and equipment needed to run the marathon ahead of them. A marathon they have not been training to run,” he said Tuesday following the outpouring of support. “You are helping them through this nightmare of a moment in their lives.”

The call came in around midnight Monday about a residential fire about 3.5 miles from the station in the Elkland Fire District, the Elkland Fire Department was the first fire crew to arrive, behind a Webster County Sheriff’s Deputy. The call drew response from numerous agencies in the area, including Buffalo Rural, Conway, Southern Webster County, Marshfield, Fair Grove, Niangua, Rogersville, Strafford as well as dozens of volunteer firefighters.

“We had everybody in Webster County and beyond… The State Fire Marshall had three people on the scene and they said it was accidental. Fair Grove, Marshfield and Strafford went in, we were trying to concentrate on keeping the fire pushed back off them but it had already burned the stairwell out and there’s no way we could get in there. They had already lost contact with them before we got there,” said Elkland Chief Sam Parrott. “The fire egressed toward the north and starting coming back upstairs. We were just trying to keep it all pushed back and it’s just… It’s a terrible tragedy.”

According to Parrott, fire crews did not find any smoke alarms on the property. He described the call as the worst he’s responded to in his 37 years at the district. State authorities at the scene determined the fire to be accidental. The Missouri State Fire Marshal investigation is ongoing.


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