Grieving Parents Who Lost Seven Children in a Fire Are Expecting Another Baby: 'It's a Process to Go Back to Really Living'

Family Pregnant After Losing Seven Children in Fire
The Clouse family home the day after the fire
Carolyn Kaster/AP

03/14/2016 AT 02:50 PM EDT

After losing seven young children in a horrific farmhouse fire five years ago, Janelle and Ted Clouse are rebuilding their family – while holding onto the memories of their precious ones who died.

On the night of March 8, 2011, a deadly fire engulfed the couple's Blain, Pennsylvania, country home, claiming the lives of seven of their eight children. The parents and their 3-year-old daughter Leah, the lone survivor, were left homeless and lost in an overwhelming cloud of grief.

After years of emotional suffering, Janelle and Ted are slowly starting to piece their lives back together.

"It's never going to be the same," Janelle told the Associated Press.

Today, the Clouse household is once again teeming with life and laughter and love. Since the devastating fire, Janelle and Ted have become parents to four kids, and are pregnant with a fifth.

Janelle is due to deliver a baby boy in April.

"Soon I'll be telling people that we have 13 children," Janelle told the news outlet, factoring in her lost children.

The couple remembers every detail from that chilling March night, and recall the devastating moment they realized their children were lost forever.

"No one inside is living. There was no way," Ted told AP, thinking back to the moment he saw thick black smoke rising from his house.

Christina, 11, Isabelle, 9, Brady, 7, Hannah, 6, Heidi, 4, Miranda, 18 months, and Samantha, 9 months, died that day.

Coroners ruled the children's deaths resulted from a mix of carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation.

Fire officials have not been able to find the cause of the fire, but the assumption is that 18-month-old Miranda, who always carried a blanket with her, held the fabric too close to the family's space heater in the kitchen.

She then carried the burning blanket into the living room where it likely came into contact with couch cushions.

At the time of the fire, Janelle, who was pregnant, was out in the barn tending to cows, and Ted, a milkman, had driven to a nearby dairy farm to collect milk. Janelle said her two oldest daughters were looking after their younger siblings, as they often did.

Ted and Janelle believe their children, whose bodies were found in three different rooms, had closed their bedroom doors, waiting for someone to rescue them.

"They were scared, you don't know what to do," Ted told AP.

"I just hope they didn't suffer much," Janelle told the news outlet.

"You wonder if there was something more you could do. I know there wasn't, but I was the adult who was supposed to be in charge," she added.

The grieving parents, once surrounded by eight lively, boisterous kids faced the haunting reality of a much quieter house.

"You expect to bury your parents. You never expect to bury your children. It is just not a fact of life," Janelle told the news station.

Four months after the fire, Janelle and Ted welcomed baby Gabriel – a glimmer of hope for the couple in a time of terrible sadness.

Janelle said she felt guilty and didn't want it to seem as if she was replacing her dead children, but in time, she came to accept her new baby as a true blessing, reports the Associated Press.

Gabriel was followed by Yvonne, 3, Gordon, 2, and Jedidiah, 10 months.

There is still sorrow in the Clouse family, an irreplaceable emptiness, but the parents are learning to live their lives again – in honor of their lost loved ones.

Today, the Clouses live in a new home, a solid structure – with smoke detectors and sprinklers – that was built by community volunteers.

"It's a process to go back to really living. You're not sure how to go about it," Janelle told the outlet.
blog comments powered by Disqus

From Our Partners