Johnson County Woman Released From Hospital After Son Dies In Fire

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JOHNSON COUNTY (KFSM) – A woman who was severely burned in the same fire that killed her 11-year-old son has been released from the hospital, family members told 5NEWS on Tuesday (Nov. 18).

Jeannie Ritchie was released from a hospital in Little Rock, where she had been since Nov. 12, when she and her family were caught in a fire at their house in Johnson County.

Her husband Robby Ritchie and daughter Meadow, 6, remain in the hospital in stable condition.

Blaine Ritchie, 11, died in the fire near Clarksville after he was unable to escape the house. Officials said he was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Shock and disbelief at first of course,” Ritchie’s cousin Angie Bell said. “Meadow is doing considerably better they are pleased with her progress. Robby, some of his burns are going to third degree burns. The are probably going to have to do surgery and he has been running a fever.”

Blaine’s funeral is set for Wednesday morning at Fernwood Assembly of God in Hartman. His mother will be able to attend, but his father and sister are not in a condition to go, Bell said.

Deputies said the fatal fire occurred on Forest Service Road 1450 at 12:02 a.m. 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.

“Bubbly smile always smiling everywhere he went,” Pastor David Willis said. “Happy kid loved sports football baseball any of those things just a wonderful young man.”

“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 that day 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,” 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.


  • zztopperman

    Some of these comments could have been left out to spare the family even more grief as if they haven’t already been through enough! Shows 5 new’s lack of compassion and common sense and decency, in my opinion!

  • parent

    That 911 call should not have been released and certainly should not have been played on 5 News. Have an ounce of decency and sympathy and show some respect for this grieving family. Airing that call benefited no one and hurt many.

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