Two homes destroyed but no lives lost in separate Lawrence County house fires

Steve Chapman

Pamela Schoen’s house suffered heavy damage due to a fire caused by a lightning strike April 19.

Caleb Smith’s house on FF stands in ruins after being ravaged by fire.

Lightning strike causes first blaze; wood stove the second in total loss inferno
Two houses are likely total losses after being burned in separate accidental fires near Mt. Vernon within four days of each other. No one was hurt in either blaze.
Good Samaritans save life of woman in Freistatt
The first house belonged to Pamela Schoen, in Freistatt. Her house caught fire due to being struck by lightning in the early hours of Sunday, April 19. Her daughter-in-law, Sandra Schoen, said she is only alive because of the intervention of three people: Jeff Stewart, who saw the fire and called 911, and Lawrence County Deputy Sheriffs Levi Mareth and Joey Skaggs, who entered the house and helped Pamela get out.
“By the grace of God, (Stewart) would normally not have been there at that time, but he came through and he said he saw the fire coming out of the top of the house,” Schoen said, “and he said he knew that when he came through there, it was pitch black; there were no lights anywhere … and he said, ‘I pulled in and I just started honking my horn,’ and he said he wasn’t going to leave until he knew somebody had checked that house and there was no one in it.”
 Schoen said her mother-in-law was fast asleep, so she didn’t hear Stewart honking his horn. After Stewart called 911, Mareth and Skaggs arrived on the scene and entered the house. He helped Pamela Schoen leave safely.
“Deputy Skaggs and I would like to thank everyone involved,” Mareth said. “Without the attentiveness of the passing motorist who saw the fire and called 911, there would have been a worse outcome. We would like to especially thank our dispatchers for quickly getting us, fire, and EMS, in route. As always, the Freistatt Fire Department had a quick response and their mutual aids were close behind. Deputy Skaggs and I were able to work as a team and get Pam out of the residence quickly, and we thank God for placing everyone where He did.”
Community supports Schoen
Schoen said the fire was the latest in a string
 of misfortunes for her mother-in-law. She lost her husband last December, about a week before Christmas, and her mother in March, and now the home where she’d lived for 50 years. Moreover, she lost everything in the fire but the clothes she was wearing.
“She’s doing fairly well, (but) she’s in a state of shock,” Schoen said. “She’s lost more in the last three-and-a-half months than most people lose in a lifetime.”
However, Schoen said several people have rallied around her with donations.
“Our community has been amazing,” she said. “People have brought food, clothes and toiletries and monetary donations to help her buy the things that she needs.”
Schoen said she didn’t know whether Pamela’s house would be rebuilt or demolished. That is up to the insurance company.
“We’re still waiting for the insurance to write up their report and determine all that,” she said. “So, we don’t have that back yet, but it was so extensive that they had to have two teams come out; a forensic tag team that went through and they had to do a 3-D rendering of the house and all that. More than likely it will be a total loss, but they can’t say that to us yet.”
Another house fire
About a half-week later, on Wednesday, April 23, another house caught fire, this one on FF Highway. The owner, Cody Smith, said a fire he started in a wood-burning stove became out of control.
“It just caught on fire when I created a fire to keep the house warm in the woodstove,” he said.
At the time, Smith was living in the house with his fiancé; neither of them were hurt.
Smith said he and his fiancé are currently living at the Quality Inn, thanks to help from the Red Cross.
Smith said he didn’t have insurance for his house when it burned down.
“I just bought it,” he said. “I used all my money to buy the thing. I didn’t have time to get insurance, or the money.”
As to what he will do with the property, Smith said he was not sure yet.
“I might sell the place, or I might tear the place down and rebuild it,” he said. “I just can’t decide.”
How you can help:
Sandra Schoen encouraged anyone who wants to help her mother-in-law to pray for her, but those who would like to make a donation can contact her (Sandra) at (417) 235-2333. She said Pamela had also received several cards from people wanting to wish her well, and those, along with donations, can be mailed to her at 17187 Hwy H, Monett, Mo 65708. Donations can also be dropped off at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Freistatt.
Anyone who would like to help out Caleb Smith can contact him at (417) 520-6498.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


Please Login for Premium Content