George, IA (KSFY) The small town of George Iowa is mourning the loss of a 9-year-old girl killed in a house fire.
It started just after midnight Sunday morning; while several family members were able to escape, Central Lyon 3rd grader Riley Meyer died in the fire.
The fire has impacted people all over northwestern Iowa, including dozens of firefighters and EMTs from several surrounding communities who battled the fire that began just after midnight Sunday.
This week, many people are grieving the loss of such a young life.
“It’s hard for kids to understand the finality of something like this,” Faith Baptist Pastor Jeff Poppinga said.
Monday morning, dozens of counselors and pastors worked with 9 and 10 year old kids as they grieve the loss of their friend.
“We want to embrace that and say its ok to feel bad but also give them resources to move forward,” Central Lyon Elementary/Middle School Principal Steve Harman said.
In her short time on earth, Riley touched people all over her community.
“When I think of Riley I think of somebody who with a sweet spirit, she was always quick to smile, very gentle, very kind and aware of others around her,” Pastor Poppinga said.
“She always came to school with that smile on her face and was one that had a lot of friends and was well liked by her peers,” Principal Harman said.
Sunday morning, several parents of Riley’s peers worked to try and save her life.
“They tried to make entry into the house but with the stability of the structure it was not a good situation to go into the house,” George Fire Chief Bill Sprock said.
“Every person that put their life on the line, did everything they could to try and help that young 3rd grade student get out of the house and make it safe with the rest of the family,” Principal Harman said.
Even so, in a small community where everyone knows their neighbors and have families of their own, many volunteer firefighters are gripped by grief.
“It was a very difficult Monday morning and it’s going to be that way for a little while,” Chief Sprock said.
A stress management meeting is being held at the George Fire department Monday for all of the firefighters, EMTs and other emergency officials that were impacted by this fatal fire.
People all over Lyon County Iowa are now working to support Riley’s family. The school has started a go fund me page to help cover funeral expenses and another Rock Rapids ministry is collecting supplies and donations to help replace items the family lost in the fire.