Fire destroys home in West Plains, Mo.; neighbors begin cleanup process

Published: Dec. 22, 2019 at 4:51 PM CST
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Firefighters say a West Plains, Mo. home is a complete loss after a fire Sunday morning.

"There's no words that can explain anything that can happen like this to a family, especially one with kids and days before Christmas, yeah," neighbor Kelly Anderson said.

Sunday morning around 1:30, Kelly Anderson and her husband were awakened by pounding at their back door.

"When he opened the door, there was nobody there, but the house, our neighbor's house behind us, was engulfed in flames," Anderson told KY3.

Thankfully, no one was home.

Firefighters say they used more than 16,000 gallons of water to battle the blaze.

Howell County Rural Fire Department Chief Joe Auffert says the family did have a real Christmas tree inside and mentioned to him, they've had some electrical problems lately.

Though officials say it's unclear if a dry, real Christmas tree is to blame.

"But right now, it looks like it was possibly electrical, Auffert added. Which it did start in the house behind me, in the vicinity where they had a real, live Christmas tree."

Anderson says the family of six left Thursday night to visit family in Colorado.

"They're on their way back from Colorado right now and they are devastated. They don't know what to do," Anderson exclaimed.

It appears the fire damaged nearly everything, just days before Christmas.

"Christmas presents were in the closet and everything is gone," Anderson said.

While the family heads home, neighbors spent hours digging through the remains, looking for anything salvageable.

"They've watched our kids grow up and they've been there when we needed help and we're there when they need help and this is definitely a time when they are needing it the most," Anderson noted.

As a safety precaution, if you have a real tree inside your home, firefighters remind you to keep it watered.

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