Fire destroys family home east of Purdy

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

4 adults, 3 children left homeless by blaze

A structure fire east of Purdy destroyed the home of John and Linda Keckler on Tuesday.

According to Purdy Fire Chief Nick Mercer, Purdy firefighters responded to a call at 11612 Highway C at 3:54 p.m. on Tuesday. Flames were visible through the roof as firefighters arrived. The house was completely destroyed.

Mercer said the family reported hearing a loud pop, followed by the power flickering before going out, after which they smelled smoke. They left the home, having difficulty helping a disabled family member to escape. A Purdy firefighter located nearby arrived on the scene quickly, without equipment, and was able to help the family save some of its property. The family included four adults and three children who are students at Purdy Elementary School.

Purdy firefighters were already deployed at the time in a remote location fighting a fire along the Arkansas-Missouri Railroad. A brush hogging excavator cleaning up the tracks caught fire and ignited a grass fire, which firefighters were battling when the structure fire call arrived.

Monett city and rural as well as Butterfield firefighters responded to the scene. Mercer said wind gusts up to 48 miles per hour hampered efforts. The fire leveled the house to the ground. Firefighters left the scene at 7:52 p.m.

The Red Cross responded to the scene. Spokesperson Jenny Solomon said the Red Cross provided immediate assistance, such as cash for emergency needs and funds for lodging. A nurse became involved to help with the loss of medical supplies. The Red Cross would assign a caseworker to follow the family for three to four weeks and help them network with relief services in Barry County, such as churches or Crosslines in Monett. The school district would likely help replace backpacks and other class related supplies.

"Everybody's recovery is individual," Solomon said. "What one family needs may not be the same as another."

MaLinda King at Crosslines said the family had not been in touch by Thursday morning. Crosslines often provides assistance, she said, after the family finds a new location, with such things as furniture, household supplies and some food to restock the pantry. Assistance on utilities may also be available.

A donation jar for the family has been set out at the Ramey Supermarket in Purdy. A family friend said efforts to organize a fundraiser were taking shape, but no details were yet available.

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