'Call the fire department, my house is on fire'; family recalls victims' last words

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The children of Jerald and Shirlee Schack now live all over the country, but they still visited their parents in Tolstoy frequently, and the news of their parents death brings them all together once again.

"The two of them were inseparable, they were each other's priority, they were each others partner, they were each other's companion, and now they are of course going to be buried together, but there's a little bit of beauty in that," said Rhett Schack.

Jerald and Shirlee Schack were the two people who died in the Tolstoy house fire on Saturday.

"What we love to do with them is just experience farm life with our kids, show them how awesome it was, just see the love for the farm, and the way of life that Mom and Jerry had," said Melanie Decker.

Their children, all now living in different parts of the country, thought the two made it out safely.

"I noticed I was getting a lot of calls from Bowdle, and so I thought I better start taking some of the calls," said Flynt Schack.

Even the fire fighters that took the initial call thought it was coming from the Schack's, but it was coming from a neighbor.

"He had made the call they thought, so they thought he was outside it turns out his neighbor actually that he had been on the phone with when he realized that the house was on fire, made the call," Flynt Schack said.

That neighbor was a longtime friend who called Jerald Schack every morning.

"Dad's last words to Allen Strokel were 'call the fire department, my house is on fire, I've got to get Shirlee out," Rhett Schack said.

Unfortunately, Jerald and Shirlee never made it out.

"By the time that the first neighbor got there or the first fire fighter, most of it was engulfed in flames and I think our parents were already deceased," said Rhett Schack.

The two lessons this has taught the siblings is, for one, the need for people to make sure they have a living will.

"They did not have a will, and so our first objective is after the funeral and burial is to figure out how can we get control of what will someday be our property," said Rhett Schack.

And two, the importance of smoke detectors.

"There were no current, functional smoke detectors in the house, if there had been, those two would probably still be alive," said Rhett Schack.

The family is still working on funeral arrangements, and how they will manage everything, not knowing what their parents wanted without a will.