Two Children Killed In Rural Cherokee Co. Fire

Tuesday, December 9th 2008, 12:17 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, News On 6

WELLING, OK - Two Green Country children are dead after a fire sweeps through their foster home in Cherokee County. That fire also left their foster mom in critical condition.

The fire happened at about 1:00 Sunday morning at a home in the Eldon community, east of Tahlequah.

When firefighters from the Welling Fire Department got a 911 call, they feared people were inside the burning home. When they arrived, flames were already coming through the roof of the double-wide mobile home.

"It was fully engulfed. The roof was already gone and probably two thirds of the house," said Nick Snyder, Assistant Fire Chief.

Two DHS foster children lived in the home with their foster parents. The sisters, ages 6 and 10, were killed. Their bodies were found in a bedroom.

It's heartbreaking for the volunteer firefighters who responded.

"Any time you lose a life, it is a tragedy, especially when they are so young," said Snyder.

The girls' foster mother, a 76-year-old, was injured while trying to get the girls out.

"I've known her for quite a while and the way she was, she probably had to be drug out trying to see if she could save the kids," said Snyder.

The foster mother was flown to a Tulsa burn unit with burns over 50% of her body. Her husband has minor injuries.

Those who know the foster mother say she has a heart of gold. She has taken in hundreds of foster children over the past 40 years, giving them a loving environment. In fact, she was honored recently as one of the longest serving, if not the longest serving foster parent in state history.

The state fire marshal's office suspects a wood burning stove caused the fire. The victims' names aren't being released.

The foster mother is in critical condition.

"It will be a long, long hard road for her to get through all this," said Snyder.

A meeting is set for Wednesday night to make counseling available for firefighters who responded to the fire.

Investigators say the fire is a good reminder about the importance of making sure wood burning fireplaces are clean and in order and that every home has smoke detectors.