Holts Summit family shares lessons learned from deadly fire

In a matter of seconds, the kindling box was on fire and the couch next to it had gone up in flames, filling the house with smoke.

None of us know exactly how we'd react if our home caught fire. But one couple has been there and says you can learn from their tragedy.

KCRG News spoke with the Daniels' family, who lost their two daughters in a house fire back in January. They revisited the site where the fire happened and share lessons learned. It's all part of a continuing series, "Preventing House Fires."

There is nothing left of the Daniels' home at Seges Mobile Home Park in Holts Summit.

And the painful loss of their girls is still fresh.

"Is it hard to see the school bus go by?," Mallory asked Bobby and Tina Daniels.

"It was her's," says Tina, referring to their 5-year-old daughter Savannah.

Despite the pain, Bobby and Tina walked through what exactly happened that morning in January.

"It was one of the colder days of the winter months that we had," says Bobby. "Our furnace wasn't acting right; it was reading 60 degrees. It was a little chilly and I wasn't going to have my kids and my wife and everybody waking up to a chilly house. So I started a fire in the fireplace."

Bobby then left for work.

"My wife was getting my girls ready for daycare and she went to go get my youngest some clothes," says Bobby. "My youngest had an infatuation with fire and she got a piece of kindling and lit it on fire in the fireplace."

"Tina came out of the room, which was right there, and she's like 'Bailey, drop it.' And Bailey turns around and instead of dropping it in the fireplace, she drops it in the kindling box which had a bunch of newspaper and stuff in it," says Bobby.

In a matter of seconds, the kindling box was on fire and the couch next to it had gone up in flames, filling the house with smoke.

"Tina started trying to put it out with water and telling the girls to get out," says Bobby.

Tina told the girls to go out the back door. She quickly realized she couldn't stop the fire and started out the backdoor herself but she didn't see the girls on the way out.

"I could hear them," says Tina. "I was telling them to come to the back door and they just kept saying 'We can't see you.' And I just told them to listen to my voice."

"I came out the back door to yell at the neighbors to call the fire department," says Tina. "I came out here and they weren't here and I went to turn to go back in to get them and the first responder and EMT grabbed me."

The smoke had overcome the house at that point. Savannah, 5, was found just five feet inside the back door. Her sister, Bailey, 3, was found not far behind, hugging the neck of the family dog.

Through their grief, the Daniels' say there are things they want you to do differently.

"Everything can be replaced. Life can't be replaced," says Bobby. "Get the hell out. I don't care. Don't think that you can put a fire out with a glass of water because a fire can go so quickly. Get the hell out."

"If I could do it over, I'd just grab my girls and go outside," says Tina.

Bobby and Tina also say leaving a child alone near a fire for just a few moments, even one who knows not to play with fire, as Bailey did, is a few moments too many.

Bobby and Tina Daniels say they do not blame the Holts Summit Fire Department for the death of their girls.

They just wonder why the first responder and EMT on the scene did not listen to Tina's pleas, saying her girls were just inside the back door, or why family and neighbors were not allowed to go inside and try to rescue the girls.

KRCG News asked Holts Summit Fire Chief Scott Brooks those same questions. He says emergency officials are trained to not enter a burning home without the proper safety equipment.

Brooks also says other people are kept from entering the building because they could become yet another casualty.