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Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - January 2009
Copyright 2008 - Polk Count
y Publishing Company

House fire claims lives of 2 children
Polk County Enterprise - January 2009

LIVINGSTON — A neighbor told 911 operators that she was awakened by screams from the house across the street from her on Bird Lane shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday. When she looked outside she saw it was in fl ames. Two children, 11-year-old Destiny Shults and her brother, 9- year-old Richard Shults Jr. were trapped inside the house and died. Their mother Shirley Hoffer was critically injured but a friend, Ronnie McCarty Jr., was able to get her out of the house prior to the arrival of law enforcement offi cers and fi refi ghters. He also suffered burns and smoke inhalation injuries but no further reports on their condition were available Saturday. Livingston Chief Corky Cochran said fi re crews could see a glow in the sky caused by the fi re while they were still inside the city limits of Livingston. At least fi ve sheriff’s deputies — some of who were off-duty — and a DPS trooper also responded to attempt to rescue the children from the fi re. Four area fi re departments battled the blaze for more than an hour. The initial call came in at 10:04 p.m., LVFD records show. Four trucks and 19 fi refi ghters from LVFD joined three truck and fi ve fi refi ghters from South Polk County VFD. Two additional trucks came from Onalaska with four men and one truck and six men from Scenic Loop VFD. Two ambulances from AmeriCare EMS responded and they called for an air ambulance to transfer the mother while they worked to stabilize her. “I don’t know how old the house is, but since it was totally made of wood there was a lot of fuel for the fire to consume,” Cochran said. Pumper trucks from the four departments shuttled water from five to six miles away for more than an hour before the fire was brought under control. Cochran estimated 18,000 gallons of water were poured on the house before it was safe for recovery and investigation efforts to begin. Firefighters remained at the scene until 1 a.m. Friday morning. Investigators from the State Fire Marshals Office arrived at the scene at about 7 a.m. Friday and their initial investigation uncovered no evidence of foul play, according to Chief Deputy Bryon Lyons with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. “They are saying the fire appeared to be electrical with the origin in the kitchen area,” Lyons said about the fire marshal’s investigation. “At this time there doesn’t appear to be any foul play involved but the investigation is still under way.” Cochran said the incident was extremely demanding physically and emotionally for all the crews. “Everybody there — firefighters, law enforcement, and EMS — all have children and grandchildren themselves,” Cochran said. “One of my concerns (as incident commander) is how they are holding up to that awful test. It takes a toll on everybody. Classmates of the two children were also grief-stricken when they heard of the fire Friday. LISD spokesman Gregg Faith said the district has brought in crisis counselors to help students come to terms with the loss of the fourth and fifth grade students. Faith said the school can provide extra one-on-one counseling for any students who are struggling to deal with this tragic situation. An account has been established at First National Bank, Livingston to help with funeral and medical expenses



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