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Four brothers killed in fire

Father, older sibling try in vain to rescue boys from burning home

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/2/2015 (1358 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

MORRIS -- Their names were Bobby, Timmy, Danny and Henry -- four brothers who did everything together and, in photos, were the very image of family.

The boys died in an early-morning fire Wednesday in a two-storey farmhouse in southern Manitoba, despite the efforts of their parents and older brother to save them.

The fire started about 12:30 a.m. in the Froese family's home near Kane, a hamlet about 20 kilometres west of Morris on Highway 23.

Surrounded by family, Beverley Eberhardt briefly described the grandsons she lost.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/2/2015 (1358 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

MORRIS — Their names were Bobby, Timmy, Danny and Henry — four brothers who did everything together and, in photos, were the very image of family.

The boys died in an early-morning fire Wednesday in a two-storey farmhouse in southern Manitoba, despite the efforts of their parents and older brother to save them.

The fire started about 12:30 a.m. in the Froese family's home near Kane, a hamlet about 20 kilometres west of Morris on Highway 23.

Surrounded by family, Beverley Eberhardt briefly described the grandsons she lost.

"They're wonderful boys, very close," said Eberhardt, from Winkler. "They're together all the time."

"Bobby loved reading. Timmy loved computers and his phone, and he was the hunter. He loved hunting with his dad," she said.

"Henry was a little bit shy, much closer to his mom. Danny was the hyper one. You couldn't keep him down."

Doralee Eberhardt, 34, was alone with seven of her eight children when the fire started. Her partner, Jake Froese, and the couple's oldest son, Steven, 18, who were working a late shift at a plant in Winkler, arrived home to find the home engulfed in flames.

'Bobby loved reading. Timmy loved computers and his phone, and he was the hunter. He loved hunting with his dad''Henry was a little bit shy, much closer to his mom. Danny was the hyper one. You couldn't keep him down'

Doralee and three younger children — an eight-year-old girl, her five-year-old sister and two-year-old brother — escaped and were outside when the father and son arrived. After calling the local volunteer fire department, Jake tried to get inside but was turned back by the intense heat and smoke.

The four boys sleeping on the second floor could not be saved. Family members identified them as Bobby, 15, Timmy, 12, Danny, 10, and Henry, 9.

Beverley said Jake and Steven tried using a ladder to rescue the kids, but flames shooting out the windows drove them back.

Four brothers (from left) Timmy, 12, Danny, 10, Henry, 9, and Bobby Froese, 15  died in an overnight fire in a two-storey farmhouse in rural southern Manitoba, despite the efforts of their parents and older brother to save them.

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Four brothers (from left) Timmy, 12, Danny, 10, Henry, 9, and Bobby Froese, 15 died in an overnight fire in a two-storey farmhouse in rural southern Manitoba, despite the efforts of their parents and older brother to save them.

"(Jake) tried to get them out. He was going through the window, but he couldn't wake them. The smoke and flames blew him right down," she said. "He's at (Health Sciences Centre). I don't know how he's doing."

Doralee and Jake suffered from smoke inhalation and were transported to hospital in Winnipeg. The surviving children were taken to a neighbour's home.

Beverley said there is great concern for Jake's health, but her daughter didn't suffer serious injuries.

"Physically, my daughter is OK, but mentally she isn't good," she said.

Jake's cousin, Susan Ryman, later said by telephone from Winkler she understood he was "now out of his coma and able to speak."

Beverley said the oldest boy remains in a state of disbelief.

"Steven said he just won't believe his brothers are gone until he actually sees them," she said.

Frank Krahn, president of Tri Koating Inc., the industrial painting firm where Jake and his oldest son work, described the father as a family man and said the thoughts of the company and its employees were with the family.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Provincial fire officials were still on scene late Wednesday afternoon.

Bernard Schellenberg, the RM of Morris fire chief based in nearby Rosenort, said crews couldn't search the home because the fire was out of control.

The 20-member crew, arriving with three trucks and a water tanker, was informed four boys were sleeping in rooms on the second floor.

 

An overnight house fire killed four brothers near the village of Kane, about 20 kilometres west of Morris on Highway 23 Wednesday. Their parents and four other children escaped the fire, but they weren't able to rescue the boys.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

An overnight house fire killed four brothers near the village of Kane, about 20 kilometres west of Morris on Highway 23 Wednesday. Their parents and four other children escaped the fire, but they weren't able to rescue the boys.

"When they arrived on scene, the (newer) addition had been fully involved, and the walls had collapsed," Schellenberg said, adding firefighters helped Doralee, Jake and the younger kids who managed to escape.

The tragedy will certainly have a deep impact on the volunteer firefighters.

"When firefighters deal with a tragedy like this, as tough as we seem to (be), we are aching inside for the family," Schellenberg said. Grief and crisis counselling has been made available to his volunteer crew.

There was nothing left standing at the farmhouse site as it smouldered most of Wednesday.

RM of Morris Reeve Ralph Groening said it's too early to determine what support the family will need and what counselling the firefighters will need in the coming days and weeks.

"We've already received offers — there's a home that's been offered," he said. "The strength of small communities. They've been there very quickly. We know the community is willing to provide the support needed to ensure they can, as best as possible, move on with their lives."

Red River Valley School Division superintendent Pauline Lafond-Bouchard said crisis response teams were at schools the boys attended in Lowe Farm and Rosenort on Wednesday.

The boys were in different grades, said Lafond-Bouchard. "It's pretty tragic. We're just trying to support everyone as much as possible.

"(Students and staff) would know the family well," she said.

RM of Morris chief administrative officer Larry Driedger said the community has already come together. The Access Credit Union, which has 17 branches across southern Manitoba, including one in nearby Lowe Farm, has set up a donation account for the family.

Further details on the account and how people can help will be made available on the RM's website (rmofmorris.ca).


— With files from Nick Martin, The Canadian Press

adam.wazny@freepress.mb.ca jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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History

Updated on Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 6:52 AM CST: Adds video

6:32 PM: Adds video

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