Fire in Lake Ozark kills four children, cause unknown

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LAKE OZARK - Firefighters are looking into the cause of a fire that killed four children left home alone early Thursday morning.

The children were identified as 14-year-old Tyler Otto, 8-year-old Cason, 5-year-old Max, and 4-year-old Levi. 

Two parents lived in the home and had left the four children alone. The parents returned to the site while firefighters were working to extinguish the blaze.

The home was a single-story structure with a walk out basement and reportedly did not have smoke alarms installed.

The Lake Ozark Fire District first received a call at 12:54 a.m. for the fire.

The neighbor who called 911, Eddie Helt, said he was able to get the other neighbors out of their home. Unfortunately, he could not access the burning home because of the flames. 

"I tried to go down to see if I could gain entrance, but I could not get close to the door," said Helt. 

The first units on the scene tried to do a primary search, but couldn't get in because of the fire's intensity. The fire was so intense that it spread to the neighbor's stairs, but firefighters quickly extinguished it.

When they put out the fire, they found the four children and two pets dead inside.

Neighbors said they are devastated. One neighbor, whose home sustained fire damage, said the fire could have killed him and his wife if Helt had not come knocking on his door. 

Helt said he and his wife are coping with the tragedy. 

"We just put our trust in God, and He is going to lead us the right way. It will be sad not to see the school bus stop and pick the kids up," Helt said.

Firefighters also expressed their sorrow for the family and community. 

"The school districts lost four children. Think of the teachers and all the family involved in this," said Assistant Fire Chief for the Lake Ozark Fire Department, Matt Birdsley 

The house is a total loss, and the cause is still under investigation. Three of the boys went to Lake Ozark Heritage Elementary School.

(Editor's note: This story has been updated with the latest information.)