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Three children killed, four injured in tragic fire


Posted By: Sharon Elijah (email)
Date: 2/29/2020 at 10:18:34

March 9, 1978 - The Midland Times

Two Oxford Junction children remain hospitalized at the University Hospitals Burn Center, Iowa City, undergoing treatment for injuries suffered in a tragic fire in Oxford Junction late Thursday, March 2. A third child has been released from Jackson County Public Hospital, Maquoketa, and a teenager has been released from the burn center. Both were treated for injuries they received in the fire which took the lives of three other children.

Tuesday morning, Becky Berg, 6, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Allen Berg and Angela Curley, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Steve Curley, were listed in critical condition at the burn center with burns.

Korina Curley, 13-month-old sister of Angela, was discharged Monday from Jackson County Public Hospital after being admitted for observation and treatment of possible smoke inhalation. Marcella Koontz, 17, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Koontz, was released from the Iowa City burn center Monday after treatment for burns and smoke inhalation.

Funeral services were held Sunday and Tuesday for the three children who suffered fatal burns and smoke inhalation in the fire.

Services for Spencer Scott Romer, 8, and his sister, Kelly Ann Stetler, 5, were held Sunday, March 5 at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Oxford Junction. They were the children of Nancy Romer Stetler.

Funeral services were held Tuesday, March 7 at Carson's Funeral Home in Maquoketa for Rochelle Rae Berg, 4. Rochelle was the daughter of Allen and Barbara Lindermier Berg.

Obituaries for the three children appear on page 10 this week's Midland Times.

On the evening of the fire, Barbara Berg was reportedly babysitting in the Berg's two story brick home on Highway 136 in Oxford Junction. Mrs. Berg was staying with the children of Nancy Stetler, who was at work in Anamosa, as well as with the Curley children and her own.

Mrs. Berg was called to drive a young neighbor, Troy Koontz, to the Maquoketa hospital for treatment of a cut. While Mrs. Berg was away, the injured boy's sister, Marcella took over the baby sitting.

The fire broke out about 11 p.m. as Marcella attempted to place more logs in the wood-burning furnace. A can of lighter fluid was spilled nearby, and ignited, starting the fire.

Although flames reportedly were not visible from the outside, the entire interior of the house burned and the walls collapsed. The home is a total loss.

Roger Mueller, a 22-year-old music instructor who lived in the upstairs of the Berg home, escaped and attempted with the help of another man, to rescue the children still in the home.

Thick smoke prevented this, and hindered efforts of the Oxford Junction Volunteer Fire Department to rescue the victims. Fire Chief Richard Wink reported that the smoke made it impossible to save the three children in time, and injured the four other children.

More than 25 firemen from the Oxford Junction, Wyoming, and Maquoketa fire departments fought the blaze until early Friday morning.


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