NOEL, Mo. —
An apartment fire Monday night claimed the life of a 5-year-old girl and seriously injured her stepfather.
Firefighters were called about 7:30 p.m. to an apartment building south of Noel on Highway 59. McDonald County Sheriff Robert Evenson said seven fire departments from Arkansas and Missouri responded.
The victim was identified by a representative of Ozark Funeral Home in Anderson as Lyse Dopsish. McDonald County Coroner Tracy Dowd was unavailable to comment about a ruling.
Brent Beauford, owner of the apartment building, said Tuesday that he was traveling home from Arkansas at the time of the fire. When he arrived, he said, the fire had been extinguished. He said the tenants were immigrants from Micronesia, with the girl’s parents working at the Tyson Foods poultry processing plant in Noel.
Beauford said neighbors told him that the fire started in a bedroom. He said the girl’s mother reported hearing screams coming from the bedroom, but when the girl’s stepfather, identified by Beauford as Domingko Nennis, opened the door, he was “overwhelmed” by flames.
Beauford said Nennis made several attempts to enter the room but was unsuccessful. He said a neighbor doused a blanket with water and entered the structure, but she too was unable to reach the girl because the smoke was too heavy.
Nennis was taken to the burn center at Mercy Hospital Springfield. A hospital spokeswoman said Nennis was being treated but that a condition report was not available Tuesday night.
Evenson would not comment on the cause of the fire. He said an investigation was being conducted by the state Division of Fire Safety. Evenson said the fire started in the north unit of the building, which contained two other apartments.
Beauford said the other two units were not occupied at the time of the fire. He said a duplex in nearby Sulphur Springs, Ark., has been donated to house the displaced family.
BRENT BEAUFORD, owner of the property, said he was working to restore electric service to a well and pump that are housed in the building because they supply water to six other neighboring apartments.