JOHNSON COUNTY (KFSM) - An 11-year-old boy died early Wednesday morning after his father and a neighbor were unable to rescue him from a house fire in Johnson County, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Officials said Blaine Ritchie was pronounced dead at the scene, and his six-year-old sister Meadow was taken by a medical helicopter to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock with severe burns. The parents also suffered burns and were airlifted to the University of Arkansas For Medical Sciences hospital in Little Rock, according to the Johnson County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies said the fatal fire occurred on Forest Service Road 1450 at 12:02 a.m. Property records show the home is owned by Robert and Jeannie Ritchie.
A next-door neighbor told investigators he was woken up by the boy's father, Robert Ritchie, who said his house was on fire and his son was still trapped in the home. The neighbor and the father went to the home and placed a ladder up to the boy's bedroom window, but the fire was so intense that they could not get into the house, according to the Sheriff's Office.
"It was just disappointment," said Christopher Lawrence, a neighbor who tried to get the boy out. "Both me and my dad were hoping we could have got him out."
An initial investigation shows the fire started around the wood stove located in the center of the home, according to the Sheriff's Office.
"All we could say is we heard a faint cry after we tried," Lawrence said.
Clarksville School District officials said counselors went classroom-to-classroom Wednesday to talk with students about the incident. Blaine was a sixth-grade student at Kraus Middle School.
"The father he tried to go back in the house to save the kid before he came over here he was burnt to a crisp," Lawrence said.
Family members said they have set up a benefit account for Meadow and the two parents at Bank of the Ozarks, called the Ritchie Family Benefit account. Donations to that account can be made at any Bank of the Ozarks location.