Smoke Detectors May Have Saved Children's Lives

February 7, 2007 - Posted at 7:15 p.m. CST

STEELE, MO -- Tragedy in Southeast Missouri as a house fire Tuesday afternoon claims the lives of two small children while they were at their babysitter's home. It happened in Steele, Missouri, just a few miles from the Arkansas border...and it's an eerie reminder for residents of the small community of a fire that killed five children back in August.

"It's a small community, everybody knows everybody and it just tears everybody apart," said Steele Police Chief Michael Tomlinson.

Tomlinson is just part of town in shock after a fire claimed the lives of two young girls Tuesday afternoon.

"When we got here it was fully engulfed and we learned that there was a five-year-old and a one-year-old white female still trapped inside.  Once the fire was extinguished, prior to it actually being put out, we called the corner and the fire marshal and when they arrived, the fire was extinguished and we found the bodies and recovered both bodies from the fire," reported Tomlinson.

Five-year-old Kimberly Jarrod and one-year-old Jaden Grissom were two of four people inside the trailer when the fire started.  The children's babysitter and a four-year-old male escaped.

"The fire marshal hasn't released his official report but when he left last night, he said it looked like it was probably going to be ruled an accidental fire," said Tomlinson.

Initial reports indicate the fire may have started in the trailer's kitchen.  But without smoke detectors in the may have moved too fast and with out warning.

"If there would have been smoke detectors, this tragedy probably could have been avoided, but there were no smoke detectors," said Tomlinson.

The bodies of the children have been sent to the state hospital in Farmington for an autopsy scheduled for tomorrow.  That will determine if they died from the fire or smoke inhalation.

A memorial fund has been set up at the Bank Star of the Bootheel to help cover funeral expenses for the family.