The loss was so enormous, the tragedy so unthinkable, it made national news five years ago in March 2011. A family of 10—eight children and their parents—were reduced to three in one cruel night in rural Pennsylvania when a fire of still unknown origins swept through their 100-year-old farmhouse and claimed seven of the children's lives, reported PennLive in 2012. There were so many fundraisers that sponsors had to wait in line for space at local picnic grounds and fire halls, reports PennLive now. But as mother Janelle Clouse put it, the fire that nearly destroyed them didn't, and life went on, literally, with the birth of her son Gabriel just four months later. Then came Yvonne, who is now 3, then Gordon, who is 2, and Jedidiah, who is 10 months. Now Janelle is expecting a boy in April, which will bring the number of living children, including Leah, the only to survive the fire, to six, reports the AP.
The family, always busy with chores on their dairy farm, was going about the usual routine that fateful March night when Leah, who was 3 at the time, found her mother tending to the cows in the barn and, visibly frightened, said, "Miranda is playing with smoke." The thinness of her voice, the light breaking through the darkness, and the scent of smoke on the wind had Janelle racing for the house. Six of the children were found upstairs, some huddled under beds, while baby Samantha was in her crib in the living room, just out of reach of Janelle, who will never forget watching, helpless, the fire take almost everything with it. (The children all died of smoke inhalation.) Today the Clouses say they're thankful for the many in their community and beyond—from as far as Hawaii and Australia—who sent cards, letters, and money, reports WGAL. They've kept every last one in their sturdy new brick house built across the street. (Read more house fire stories.)