An emotional message from a woman who suffered an unspeakable tragedy brings home the message of Fire Prevention Week .
Terri Van Klavern of Lake Ozarks lost her daughter and granddaughter in a house fire nearly two years ago in an Illinois town outside Chicago. The three had traveled to Wilmington, Illinois to visit her son who had been in a car accident. Nine people settled in for the night in her son’s aging home. A fuse blew during the night. Her son changed it, but a fire began at an electrical outlet later. Van Klavern’s daughter, Robin Ling Russell, woke to her blanket on fire. She and others attempted to extinguish it, but it soon grew out of control.
The fire spread to engulf the house. Daughter Robin and granddaughter Jayden Ling got out. They reached safety, then when Robin couldn’t locate her mother, she re-entered the burning building. Her daughter followed her. They didn’t make it back out.
Adding to the tragedy, the two didn’t realize neighbors were helping Van Klavern escaped out the back of the home. Van Klavern, overcome by smoke and disoriented, didn’t know until later that she had lost her daughter and granddaughter.
Van Klavern recalls that horrid night with difficulty. She tells the tale to warn other families not to take fire prevention lightly, but to take the steps to prevent fire and to talk to family members about what to do should fire break out.