Three children found dead after Holts Summit house fire

Friday, April 17, 2009 | 6:25 p.m. CDT; updated 8:32 p.m. CDT, Sunday, April 19, 2009

HOLTS SUMMIT — Three siblings were found dead Friday after a fire swept through their home, just three months after another fire killed two children in this rural Callaway County town.

Reminder to test smoke alarms

In light of Friday's fire in Holts Summit, the Columbia Fire Department issued a statement urging residents to test their smoke detectors, change batteries or install new detectors if necessary. Smoke alarms should be installed in every level of a home, especially in common hallways where they can be heard by all.

Testing smoke alarms is as easy as pressing a button. If the loud signal does not sound after pressing the test button on the front of the device, change the batteries. If a second test does not work or the detectors are more than 10 years old, replace the detectors. Most smoke alarms cost $5 to $10. The Columbia Fire Department and the Columbia Professional Firefighters also provide and install smoke alarms in Columbia homes. They can be reached at 874-7391.

The Fire Department also would like to remind residents that they should have a plan of action in case of a fire. Leave the building and don't go back in to rescue someone or something. Call 9-1-1 from a designated meeting place.

With a smoke detector and a plan, the National Fire Protection Association estimates that chances of survival increase by 50 percent in a house fire.

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An autopsy found the three children died of carbon monoxide poisoning from the fire, Callaway County Sheriff Dennis Crane said.

The children's mother and another woman and her child were able to escape, officials said.

The fire was reported about 2:45 a.m., and the two-story home was fully engulfed when firefighters from several area departments arrived, Crane said.

The bodies of 4-year-old Chance Wilkerson and 2-year-old Gracie Wilkerson were found on the floor of their bedrooms. But the flames became too intense and firefighters had to leave before the third child, 6-year-old Trevor Smith, could be found, Crane said. His body was recovered after the fire was contained about 10 a.m.

The three children were siblings, Crane said.

The woman and child who survived were in the basement of the house, where the fire started, and were able to get the victims' mother, Elizabeth Nix, 24, out of the house, Crane said. The names of the other two survivors were not released.

On Jan. 16, 3-year-old Bailey Daniels and her 5-year-old sister, Savannah, died in a fire in a mobile home in Holts Summit. Before that blaze, the rural Callaway County town had gone 10 years without a fire fatality.

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melony chipley April 18, 2009 | 2:37 p.m.

Everybody is entitled to their own opinions.So everybody who is condemning other people as judgemental, aren't you doing the same thing?

I would like to believe that I also would run into a burning building for my children or pets, but through the grace of God I haven't been put in that situation. I would like to send out my heartfelt prayers and good wishes for all involved.

More than anything I hope everyone hugs all those you love, ensures their safety, and remember that life is way to short to harbor ill will.

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