ELKLAND, Mo. – The Webster County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the names of the children who died in the fire are 12-year-old Bella Smythe, 13-year-old Danny Smythe, and 16-year-old Ethan Smythe.
The three children attended Marshfield R-1 School District. Mike Henry said this is the first time while he’s served as superintendent that the district has experienced a tragedy of this magnitude.
“We want to serve our students and help them through these difficult times but there’s nothing that we are doing or saying that’s going to take away from the loss to this family,” Superintendent Mike Henry said. “We’ve got lots of extra resources and counselors on hand for our students and staff alike at both the high school and junior high.”
Henry said several surrounding districts have reached out to Marshfield R-1 offering resources. The support stretches beyond the 3,100 students within the district. There’s also been an army of people rallying behind the Smythe family
“That GoFundMe page to me is just just evidence of people in our area and other areas as well [their] willingness to want to help,” Henry said. “They recognize the tragedy that this family has faced and the difficult times ahead. So they want to share resources that they have and help.”
The Elkland Fire Chief also said there have been other times the community has come together to raise money for a family.
“A guy’s wife got hurt and the community had a big auction and raised several thousand dollars and stuff,” Chief Sammy Parrott said. “A lot of times we’ll do something, try to help them out too.”
This is also the first tragedy Parrott has experienced in years at Elkland Fire Protection District.
“I’ve been on here 37 years, and this is the first one we’ve had with fatalities,” Parrott said. “Especially kids, it’s kind of indescribable.”
Parrott said firefighters never found a smoke alarm in the house off Conklin Road.
“It’s just a tragedy,” Parrott said. “We just tried to keep the fire pushed back. I got a hold of my dispatch and told them to send everybody they could send. You know somebody is in there. I mean, it’s tough and there’s not much you can do.”
As far as Parrott’s team, he said he’s checking in with them to see where they’re at mentally.
“We’re going to try to reach out to Robby Jernigan, chaplain of Marshfield,” Parrott said. “We’re going to get with him and see if we can set up something and have a debriefing, you know, and let them kind of talk through it. I think they need it. I mean, we didn’t do much as a recovery.”
Parrott said his team found several heaters inside the home, something he said homeowners should be careful of as the temperature outside drops.
“People need to watch their electric heaters and stuff and smoke alarm,” Parrott said. “We give [smoke alarms] away for free.”
Parrott also said it’s important parents teach their kids how to escape in the event of a fire.
“Get a fire plan and have you kids go through and learn how to get out,” Parrott said. “I know they make little ball bats [that] break the windows and stuff out with. Just anything that way we get to them and it easier for us to get in, and they can get fresh air too.”
Parrott said the State Fire Marshall’s office is conducting the investigation.