Community grieves loss of four children in condo fire

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OSAGE BEACH - (Updated 7:25 p.m. Wednesday) Community and family members came to Compass Pointe condominiums Wednesday afternoon to remember the lives of four children who died in a fire Tuesday night.

Family members came with flowers to set in front of building 1123 on Passover Road Wednesday afternoon. They did not wish to talk to KOMU 8 News at that time. One woman said she was a cousin, and another man said he was the grandfather.

One eyewitness, who lives near but not in the condominiums, told KOMU 8 News she and her fiance heard an explosion around 11:30 p.m. She said they watched the fire and couldn't tell which condominium it was coming from.

Osage Beach Fire Chief Jeff Dorhauer said in a news conference Wednesday morning multiple witnesses recounted explosions. He listed possible causes of the explosions to be aerosol cans or air-conditioning units but said the investigation is still ongoing.

Lake of the Ozarks firefighters created an event on Facebook called "Night of Remembrance for Compass Pointe (participate anywhere)."

The event page's description says:

"NIGHT OF REMEMBRANCE for the four children lost in the Compass Pointe fire on the night of 8/4/2015. Shine a porch lamp, set out a flameless candle, gather your family in prayer or silent reflection. Participate anywhere."

If community members would like to give to the family, they can donate to the Hendrickson Memorial Fund at the Central Bank of the Lake of the Ozarks. People can stop by any one of the locations to donate or send a check to P.O. Box 207, Osage Beach MO 65065.

The eyewitness stopped by the condo Wednesday after work to look at the damage. She said if she had known people were setting up a memorial in front of the condo, she would have brought a stuffed animal.

Early details of the condo fire

Authorities have not released the cause of the fire yet and are still investigating. 

At the news conference, authorities said the building was constructed in the 1970s, before current codes were in place, meaning there was no sprinkler system in the condo. 

According to the city's website, Osage Beach adopted the 2012 International Fire Code. Chapter 9 states "An automatic sprinkler system shall be provided in existing buildings and structures where required in Chapter 11." Chapter 11 lists the fire safety requirements for existing buildings. 

Dorhauer said the fire department received a 911 call at 11:21 Tuesday night saying people were trapped inside the condos. Firefighters were on scene at 11:29 p.m., and eight departments responded.

Dorhauer said four children -- two 2-year-old girls, a 4-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy -- were taken to Lake Regional Hospital, where they were pronounced dead. 

He said it took nearly 60 firefighters more than five hours to put the fire out.

Firefighters said two adults who were not related to the children were safely pulled from third-floor windows with the help of a ladder. The father of at least one of the children was able to escape the fire. The fire chief said the father tried to save the children but wasn't able to get to them.

Dorhauer said the children were trapped on the fourth floor of the building. He said authorities have pinpointed the source of the fire to the fourth floor but are unable to distinguish if it started inside or outside of the unit. Authorities also said the staircase, the children's only way out, was most likely engulfed in flames due to the fire's high heat.

Osage Beach Police Chief Todd Davis said the children's autopsies are scheduled for Wednesday.

[Editor's note: This story has been updated with more information about the fire's circumstances from the Wednesday morning news conference.]