Higbee family picking up the pieces after house fire

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HIGBEE - Smiles and laughter mixed with tears as the Dougherty family returned to where their home once stood.

Their day consisted of rummaging through the ashes to see if anything could be saved and assessing the damage as best as they could.

The family was sound asleep when they were awakened by the sounds of smoke detectors going off in their home on December 26. The home was ablaze with flames as high as 20 feet.

Homeowner Elizabeth Dougherty said her husband tried to contain the fire with a fire extinguisher, but it was much too large to tame.

"He only had time to put on a pair of shoes," Dougherty said.

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

They are a family of seven, but only five family members were in the home at the time. All were able to get to safety with only the clothes on their backs.

The ages of kids range from 11 months old to 12 years old.

A neighbor and friend Bridgett Smith recalled her friend Elizabeth coming to her home.

"She came to my house and calmly asked if she could borrow my phone because her house was on fire," Smith said.

It was a day after Christmas, and the family lost everything they had within minutes. Although everything was a total loss, Dougherty said she only had one concern and that was her three kids in the home at the time.

"It just came so fast, that I just worried about making it to them," she said.

She said there was no electricity when they tried turning on the lights, so she had to get through the house as best as she could to make it to her children's rooms.

Smith created a GoFundMe page to help the family with fire recovery.

For those trying to donate in other ways, donations can be sent to the following address:

Bridgett Smith

1224 County Road 2497

Higbee, MO 65257