Prairie Grove couple to rebuild after house fire

Courtesy photo
This house at 14675 Kelly Mountain Road outside the city limits of Prairie Grove burned to the ground, Sunday, Jan. 14. Prairie Grove, Farmington, Lincoln and Wedington fire departments responded to the house fire. The cause of the fire is unknown.
Courtesy photo This house at 14675 Kelly Mountain Road outside the city limits of Prairie Grove burned to the ground, Sunday, Jan. 14. Prairie Grove, Farmington, Lincoln and Wedington fire departments responded to the house fire. The cause of the fire is unknown.

PRAIRIE GROVE -- Richard and Linda King escaped a fire that burned down their 29-year-old house with only the clothes they were wearing and their rescue dog, River.

The couple then stood together surrounded by snow in single-digit temperatures as they watched their house burn to the ground. Lost in the ashes would be Linda's paintings, family photos and videos, Richard's collectibles, family heirlooms and business documents and supplies from Richard's small business.

Richard King said he and his wife had about three minutes to make a life or death decision and that was to get out of the house, though they both escaped from different areas and had to find each other afterward in the dark.

Yet, Richard King says, the fact he is talking to people about the fire is "simple and very spiritual." Instead, he and his wife could be in a morgue dead.

"This is our call at our age. We have to deal with it," King said. "It's tough for both of us. It may sound strange but I'm happy and grateful that I'm alive and so is my wife. We don't have any burns. We can go in and get up in the morning. We can reconstruct. It's an awesome thing to us. It's a God thing, God watching over us."

He is honest, though, and says they both are dealing with the trauma and probably always will, especially his wife.

That evening, Sunday, Dec. 14, the couple decided to stay home instead of going to services at their church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Prairie Grove. They had a wood fire going in their small fireplace to keep the room warm. King said he heard his wife say they had smoke and a fire and his response was of course they did, there was a wood fire going.

"In a matter of seconds, minutes or less, the next thing I knew there was a big ball of smoke coming out of the basement area as well as other parts of the home," he said, but he couldn't pinpoint where it was coming from.

The fire inspector told him the same thing, King said. He couldn't point to an origin, though it most likely started in the basement.

His wife called 911 and was told to leave the house immediately. King had gone down to the basement to investigate the fire. The smoke was so thick he made a split second decision to go outside a basement door. Then the two began searching for each other.

Prairie Grove and area fire departments arrived on the scene within minutes but discovered the house was unsafe to enter and went into a defense mode.

King said "reality sank in" when he was told by firefighters that the main floor had collapsed.

Richard, 77, a Vietnam veteran with the U.S. Army, and Linda, 73, have been married 48 years, with about 30 years of that in their Prairie Grove house, located outside the Prairie Grove city limits at 14675 Kelly Mountain Road.

For now, the couple is living in a hotel room but they hope to find somewhere to rent temporarily in Prairie Grove while they rebuild on their 18 acres.

King said he believes his military training saved their lives and his faith in God will sustain him.

"It's stunning to me how strong God is making me to be able to hold up with the pressure," he said. "I'm the captain of the ship. I have to be an example to my family, my children, even though they are grown, and even my grandchildren.

His daughter, Amy Bohn, has set up a fund to help her parents through the platform GiveSendGo.com/kingfamily fire. She and the other family members are working on a list of things her parents will need to help them out. Bohn also is asking anyone who knows her parents and their families to help by looking for any photos they may have of them.

King said he has never been given anything and been the kind to "just get it done."

"With our back against the wall, I'm not asking for money but some money is coming our way," he said. He added anything is welcome as long as it comes from the heart. He's been amazed, he said, that donations have come in from across the country from people he does not know.

As an example, he said he received a call from a pastor with Prairie Grove Christian Church that the church had an envelope for him to pick up.

"I picked up this beautiful gift of money," he said.

Amy Bohn, who flew in from California with her husband, said it is moments like this that put everything into perspective.

"We're always so busy and occupied with our day-to-day lives," Bohn said. "In minutes, everything can change. We are grateful for all the community's love and support to date but still shaken to the core. This situation could easily have had a different outcome. We thank you for your concern, support, and offers to help. Please continue to pour out your love, prayers, and encouragement for my parents during this time."

The Kings have three children, two son-in-laws and six grandchildren.

photo Courtesy photo Richard and Linda King of Prairie Grove lost their home in a fire Sunday, Jan. 14. They lost everything, except the clothes they were wearing and their dog, River.
photo Courtesy photo This photo was taken by the King family the day after their house fire. Richard and Linda King of Prairie Grove lost everything in the fire. Linda made a 911 call about the fire around 6 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 14. The family had lived in the house for 29 years.

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