Verona family’s house totally destroyed by fire

Steve Chapman

The house where Wayne Whitmore and Lisa Army lived with their children was totally destroyed by an electrical fire Dec. 7. (Photo by Steve Chapman)

No injuries from blaze, although 3 trapped pets perish in inferno
A Verona family has lost their house, along with all of their belongings, in a fire. An electrical issue started the fire that destroyed the home of Wayne Whitmore and Lisa Army on Monday, Dec. 7. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but the family’s three dogs, which were in the house, all perished.
Whitmore and Army are currently staying in a hotel while they look for a new place to live, but they’re separated from their five children.
“Right now, our kids are staying with their other parents, and we’re staying at a hotel in Mt. Vernon,” Army said.
Army said the biggest challenge they are facing right now is finding another house or an apartment big enough to house the entire family. So far, they haven’t found a place that will meet that need.
“There’s nothing available to rent that I can find,” she said. “We’ve driven (through) neighborhoods in Monett and Aurora and Marionville and Mt. Vernon. I need to find anything, and there’s nothing.”
She said that a three-bedroom house or apartment would be adequate, as three of the children are under the age of five.
While they’ve lost most of their possessions, Army said they aren’t without means. The house was insured, and a number of people have offered them help as well. “The insurance, once we find a place, they’re going to pay to replace all the furniture and clothing and everything else,” she said. “And I’ve had a lot of people from the community reach out. Some people are (saying) ‘I’ve got a dresser or a table you can have when you’re ready.’ Mostly right now it’s finding a place where we can stay until we secure the financing so we can get a new place.”
Go Fund Me pages
At least two Go Fund Me pages have also been set up to help Whitmore and Army. One, set up by Andrew McCloughan, a friend of Whitmore, has reached its fundraising goal of $1,500, while another set up Army’s grandmother, Pat Mullen of Pierce City, has raised $1,010 of its $2,000 goal, as of press time.
Collateral damage
While Army is focused on getting a new place to live, she said she also has another concern. She said a teacher with the Verona School District, whom she declined to name, may lose her job due to actions she took to keep Army’s oldest daughter, Lilly, safe during the fire.
Army said Lilly, 14, saw the fire while going between classes (the house was located right behind the school building) and immediately ran to the house to rescue their dogs.
“She tried to run into the house while it was on fire, and one of the teachers stopped her,” Army said. “My daughter was inconsolable and demanding that they let her go in the house to get the dogs. The teacher … wouldn’t let her and kicked in the door to get the dogs; to stop my daughter from doing it. Her job is in jeopardy now because of what she did.”
Army said she hates the idea of the teacher losing her job because she kept a child from getting hurt.
“The teacher did tell me her job was in jeopardy, and she doesn’t care because she did what she felt she needed to do to keep my daughter safe,” she said. “I don’t want to see her lose her job over this; she’s an amazing teacher.”
Tony Simmons, superintendent of the Verona R-7 School District, said he had “no comment” as to whether the teacher would retain her job.
To donate
Anyone who wants to contribute to the GoFundMe page to benefit Lisa Army and Wayne Whitmore should go online to


Lawrence County Record

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


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