House a total loss

Gale Rose
Firefighters take a break and view the remains of a house destroyed by fire Monday morning in southeast Pratt County. All 13 family members and their pets escaped the house without injury.

A family of 13 is safe after an early morning fire destroyed their rural Sawyer home on Monday.

William and Carla Washington were awakened about 5:20 a.m. by the faint smell of smoke at their home located about a half mile east of SE 70th Street and SE 60th Avenue in Pratt County. The home is three miles north and three miles east of Sawyer.

They searched the house and discovered a small fire in the basement and alerted the children. Carla Washington said the fire was relatively small when they found it and they attempted to extinguish the fire with wet towels. But, by the time William, Carla and a couple of the older boys got the wet towels gathered and got back down to the basement, the fire had spread so far that it was obvious they were not going to get the fire out by themselves and called for help, Washington said.

The family, including all 11 children (and two litters of puppies and their mothers), evacuated the house safely with no injuries. The Sawyer Fire Department was first on scene and immediately called for assistance from other fire districts. Eventually, units from Sawyer, Preston, Cullison, Iuka, Township 12, Pratt County Fire and Rescue battled the fire, said Sawyer firefighter Cameron Reece.

Most units were released about four hours later but a couple of Sawyer units remained on scene to put out hot spots. All Sawyer units were released about 11 a.m.

Pratt County EMS had an ambulance unit on site on standby if they were needed. No firefighters were injured in the fire.

The main portion of the house burned completely to the ground. An addition on the north end of the house was still standing but it had been gutted. There were three bedrooms on the main floor and two upstairs. William and Carla's bedroom was on the main floor above where the fire started in the basement.

The family is temporarily staying with relatives. Friend of the family, Tina Miller of Wilmore, has established a GoFundMe account online to help assist the family, which has lost everything in the fire. The account may be searched for under the heading: Loving Family Who Lost Everything In A Fire, at

The First Southern Baptist Church, 193 NE Hwy 61, Pratt, is also a designated place for monetary and gift card donations to support the Washington family.