COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — A woman and three teenagers staying with a family while their parents were in a mission trip were killed in a house fire Sunday night in Collierville.
Firefighters say heavy flames and smoke were coming from a house in the 600 block of Autumn Winds Drive when they arrived around 11 p.m. They said they arrived about four minutes after the initial call.
When firefighters arrived, the house was engulfed in flames and a man who lived in the home and a neighbor were trying to rescue people trapped inside, said Mark King, the chief of administration of the town’s fire department.
Collierville Fire Chief Buddy Billings said the victims were a 46-year-old woman, along with two girls and a boy ages 14,15 and 17.
The survivors were the woman’s husband, age 49, and the couple’s 13-year-old son. The father is hospitalized in serious condition, while his son is at Le Bonheur. Both suffered from smoke inhalation, along with the neighbor, King said.
Collierville officials said the three teenagers were staying with the family while their parents were on a missionary trip to India. The parents of those children were in the process of returning from their mission Monday, King said. They belong to Collierville Bible Church, he said.
Collierville Bible Church identified the family who lived in the house as Danny and Kari Coudriet, and their son Cole. Kari Coudriet did not survive.
The church identified the children killed in the fire as Sharron, Joy and Aaron Naik, and said the Coudriets were hosting the children and celebrating Christmas with them. Their parents are en route from India and details of the event were being communicated to them, the church said.
Scott Symons, a neighbor, said he heard screaming, came outside and discovered the two-story home engulfed. He did what he could to help.
“It was just frantic trying to figure out how many people were in the house. I knew there was multiple kids there,” Symons said.
“The son broke out the side window then jumped out the side window to the neighbor and the dad and me … Then we had some ladders out and we were trying to figure out what rooms everyone was in, who was in the house,” he explained.
The Naik children were students at French Camp Academy in Mississippi, the school confirmed.
French Camp Academy sent a statement: “As you can imagine, French Camp Academy is deeply saddened by the tragic event of last night’s fire in Collierville. We are fervently praying for the families involved and resting on the strong arms of our Heavenly Father to provide comfort and peace in a time like this. We understand that investigations are in process by Collierville authorities to explain the causes of the fire. We are asking everyone to join us in praying and supporting these precious families.”
The town of French Camp said on Facebook that the Naik family had sent their children to America from India to keep them safe. “They have been a blessing to the French Camp community and are loved by our whole town,” the post read.
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Danny Coudriet works for FedEx. The company sent a statement that reads, “Our hearts are broken for Danny, and the others involved in this tragedy. We are working to support the family during this difficult time.”
Collierville Bible Church said Danny and Cole Coudriet are expected to recover.
“This was a loving family and all they were wanting to do was spend time with each other for Christmas like everybody does,” said neighbor Chris Petenes, who came outside when the fire trucks showed up. “They were very religious. They would help my mother a lot. The kids would come and take the trash out for her and bring her cans up.”
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The state fire marshal’s office is sending two investigators from Jackson to help Billings’ team with their investigation.
Billings said the family did not have a working smoke detector downstairs, but did have one upstairs.
Several funds have been created to help the families. One is at the Walgreens at the corner of Byhalia Road and Poplar, not far from the home where the fire broke out.
Financial donations to the Coudriet family can be made through the Collierville Bible Church website. Write “Coudriet Family” in the comments. Donations to the Naik family can be made to gbbmi.org, the church said.
— Shay Arthur (@ShayA_WREG3) December 24, 2018