NEWTON — A fire swept through a Newton home early Sunday morning claiming the life of a Chatsworth child and leaving other family members injured.
Alex Renee Kistner, 5, was pronounced dead at St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital, Effingham, by an emergency room physician after the child was transported there from the scene of the fire, according to the Effingham County Coroner Leigh Hammer.
Wade Fire Protection District was called to 209 Owens St. in Newton at 12:22 a.m. Sunday. When firefighters arrived they could see some flames and a lot of smoke, according to Fire Chief Larry Dorn. Mutual aid was provided by Oblong Fire Department.
Alex Kistner was visiting her father Randy Kistner at his home on Owens Street in Newton when the fire broke out, said Effingham County Coroner Leigh Hammer. Two other children were in the house when the fire broke out and sustained injuries as did the two adults who lived there, Amanda Plummer and Randy Kistner, according to Dorn. All of the injured were taken to St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital for treatment. Their conditions aren’t known because the hospital doesn’t release patient information.
The names and ages of the two injured children were not available nor were the types of injuries they received.
Alex Kistner’s mother Julie Stark was at home in Chatsworth when the incident happened, Hammer said.
The fire caused extensive damage to the home, but Dorn said he didn’t know if it was a total loss. The cause of the fire is currently undetermined, he said. Firefighters were on the scene until 9:27 a.m. Sunday.
NEWTON — Jamie Stark-Franke stood up before the Newton City Council Tuesday and began to read a prepared speech.
She apologized as tears spilled down her face, and she had to pause a few times during her speech to regain her composure. Her message was for the four men who had attempted to rescue her niece, Alex Renee Kistner, during an Oct. 16 fire in Newton that claimed her life.
"The appreciation we feel toward the selfless heroes that horrible night is beyond what words can express. Despite risk to yourself, you attempted to save this amazing child (Alex) and did rescue the two other children.
"Circumstances being what they may, Alex could not be gotten in time, but because of you, Dravin and Vanessa have a second chance and will be forever grateful to their real-life heroes," Stark-Franke read, on behalf of Kistner’s maternal family.
The heroes to whom she is referring are Newton resident Josh Reynolds, Jasper County sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Woods and Newton Police Department patrolmen Josh Geltz and Lyle Gentry.
The four helped save the lives of children Dravin Rush, 6, and Vanessa Toombs, 3, by pulling them out of a burning home, located at 209 Owens St. in Newton, on Oct. 16.
Reynolds, who lives near where the fire occured, pulled out Toombs after searching two rooms in the home. Newton Police Chief Mike Swick said Geltz and Woods held Gentry’s feet as he crawled through a window, found Rush lying on the floor and pulled him out of the house.
The fire resulted in the death of Kistner, a 5-year-old girl from Chatsworth, who was visiting her father Randy Kistner at the time.
The four men were honored at Tuesday’s Newton City Council meeting with plaques for their selfless actions and bravery.
Swick said the men were gracious and unselfish in their actions as they were instrumental in the rescue of the two children.
Stark-Franke agreed, saying the men made a complicated world easier to live in with their bravery and selflessness.
"And to your families and loved ones, we hope they are comforted every day knowing that if this is the sacrifice you are willing to make for complete strangers, there is no limit to what you will do for them."
Alex we all miss you you are forever and always in our heart. There is not a day that goes by that we arent thinking of you.