NEAR MOUNTAIN GROVE, Mo. -- It was a horrific start to the New Year for a family in Wright County. A 7 year old girl was killed in a house fire, and 4 others, including 3 young girls, are in the hospital right now with serious injuries.
Six people were inside the home in the 4000 block of Girlstown Road, just north of Mountain Grove, when the fire broke out. Seven year old Kylie Gonzales didn't make it out.
Ashley Gonzales, Kylie's stepmom says, "I loved her from day one, just like my own." Gonzales is holding onto the memories of her bright smiling face and sweet personality. "When the other kids were fighting and in trouble, just being kids, she was always smiling. So laid back; her personality was contagious. Her smile was contagious," Gonzales says.
The last time Kylie's father and stepmother saw her was one week before she died. Gonzales says, "We didn't know that we would never see her again after Christmas morning."
Firefighters got the call just after 2AM New Years Day. Five people made it to a neighbor's house. Justin Robertson and his daughters, 8 year old Nicole and 5 year old Haydence, are in critical condition, along with 8 year old Adrienne Bradshaw. Adrienne and Kylie's mother, Nichole Gage, was also treated for burns.
The fire chief says house was too full of flames to send anyone in to search for Kylie. "When you arrive on scene, when you find one engulfed like that, you know there's not a chance of survivability. So that starts weighing on your mind, and the whole time you're fighting it, you're trying to picture in your mind, where could she be, what can we do?" says Mountain Grove fire chief Mark Bushong.
He says the fire started in the basement under the area where the kids were sleeping. After hours of fighting the flames and frigid cold, fire crews searched for about three hours to find Kylie's remains. "We had to just keep cooling it down. And once you cool it down, you get a layer of ice on everything, and it was just hard to deal with," says Bushong.
It's a loss family members and the entire community wish they didn't have to deal with at all. "Your thoughts and prayers are for the family; seven year old, that's awful young," Bushong says.
"The amount of people that have come together to support, not only our family, but her mother's side of the familly as well, has been outrageous. It's been an absolute blessing," Gonzales says.
An investigator with the state fire marshal's office was on scene New Year's Day, but the cause of the fire is still not yet clear. The Mountain Grove fire chief says it is accidental, but they may never know the exact cause.