Seven children perish in a Pennsylvania farmhouse fire; one sibling survives
LOYSVILLE, Pa. — The father was making his rounds in his milk truck and the mother was in the barn milking the cows when their 3-year-old daughter smelled smoke and ran for help.
By the time the parents reached their farmhouse, it was too late: Seven of their eight children were killed in a furious blaze Tuesday night. They ranged in age from 7 months to 11 years.
Neighbors in the heavily Amish and Mennonite area converged on the farm to help with the chores yesterday. Even the grieving father, Theodore Clouse, kept busy, perhaps as a way of coping.
The cause of the blaze was under investigation, but the children’s grandfather, Noah Sauder, suspected a propane heater.
The fire left a blackened shell in the rolling hills of Central Pennsylvania. A car parked beside the house was burned to the bare metal.
Clouse had left two of his children, ages 2 and 3, watching television around 10 p.m. when he went to begin his milk rounds, police said. He was pumping milk at a dairy farm a mile or two away when he nodded off in his truck, authorities said.
Soon after, the 3-year-old alerted her mother, who apparently tried to get into the house. Janelle Clouse ran to the homes of two neighbors before getting someone to call 911, then went with the child to the father’s truck and screamed that their home was on fire.
Dead of smoke inhalation were Christina, 11; Isabele, 9; Brady, 7; Hannah, 6; Heidi, 4; Maranda, 2; and Samantha, 7 months.
The Clouses live among Amish and Mennonite farmers but attend the Church of the Living Christ, which describes itself as an independent Bible church. Noah Sauder said Janelle Clouse was raised Mennonite.
Those who know the couple described them as hard-working people. Janelle Clouse is six months pregnant, her mother said.