Cause of fatal fire in Wheaton may never be known - KOAM TV 7

Community rallies to support survivors

Cause of fatal fire in Wheaton may never be known

Updated November 30, 2012:  Authorities say they may never know what started a fire that killed five people in a Thanksgiving apartment fire in Wheaton, Missouri.

The Barry County Sheriff's Department and Missouri Fire Marshal said they have not been able to determine the cause of the fire at the Blue Ridge Apartments.

Investigators say there is no evidence of arson but because of the extensive damage the source of the fire can not be found.

Updated November 23, 2012:  The state fire marshals office searches for the cause of a deadly fire in Wheaton, Missouri, a community of about 700 is a little more than 20 miles southeast of Neosho.

The Blue Ridge Apartments burned overnight Thursday morning, killing four adults and one child in two apartments.

The Barry County coroner identified the victims in apartment 7 as Molly Doherty, 54, and Jonathan Gemmecke, 32; and, the victims in apartment 6 were Mary Henning, 43, her son, Brandon Thurston, 8, and Corey Hasche, 23.

Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly says investigators are likely to return to the scene today.

A cause of the deadly fire was not determined Thursday but witnesses heard things explode during the fire.

"Heard what sounded like a tick at first and then came outside from out upstairs apartment and heard four, low grade booms," says Nelson Lindsay, who was staying at a friends apartment nearby.  "Looked over there at the top window and seen smoke.  I turned around, pointed it out to him and then it just blew up."

Eight apartment units were destroyed.  Another eight units were evacuated.  Most of what remains is charred.

Sixteen people who were left homeless from the fire are being helped with emergency relief for lodging, food, and clothes.

"I'm just part of the community, I mean I'm not anything special, I'm nobody special, just somebody that wanted to help today," Wheaton resident and volunteer Amiee Senseney told us.

The town's community center quickly filled up throughout the day with plenty of donated clothes.  It's offering care and healing for those now lost.

"Thanksgiving is not about the turkey, it's not about the food, it's about helping others and this is what we should be doing," says Senseney.

Again, the cause of the fire has not been determined.

If you're interested in donating supplies and other needs to survivors, you can contact the American Red Cross by calling -800-RED-CROSS or visiting www.redcross.org.

Posted November 22, 2012 at 12:24 PM CST; and, updated at 2:39 PM CST:  Fire fighters found the bodies of four adults and one child after they were called to an apartment complex in Wheaton, Missouri this morning.

The Monett fire chief tells us they received a call at about 3 a.m.  regarding a fire at the Blue Ridge Apartments in Wheaton, which is about 20 miles southeast of Neosho.

The Monett fire chief says the individuals killed were from two separate families.

Red Cross volunteers are providing financial assistance with lodging, food and clothes for individuals affected by the fire.

The Rock Solid Baptist Church in Wheaton has made a $1,000 donation to the Red Cross to help these families.

To make a donation to the Red Cross call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit www.redcross.org

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Names of the deceased have yet to be released.

Wheaton, Exeter, Fairfview, Purdy, Monett, Monett Rural and Butterfield were all called to the fire.

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