Large North County family hopes for a new home after fire

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO – A north St. Louis County family faced two major setbacks in just a matter of weeks. First, the matriarch delivered twins at 27 and a half weeks, and the babies were admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Louis Children's Hospital. Two weeks later, a fire ripped through the family's home in Glasgow Village.

In the early morning hours on Oct. 31, Serina Whiteside was startled when her daughter woke her up to say the bathroom was on fire. Whiteside tried to stop the flames from spreading.

"I turned on the shower, I went and got my fire extinguisher, but the flames were just, it was too much," said Whiteside. "We had to get out."

Two adults and nine children rushed to escape the flames.

"It was a lot of smoke, you couldn't really breathe," said Walter Turner, Whiteside's husband. "Then the ceiling, as we were running out, the ceiling started coming down."

Wearing little more than pajamas, everyone made it out safely, but everything they owned was gone. Turner said they watched as fire engulfed their family home.

"I was across the street just down on my knees crying," said Whiteside. "I was watching the first thing we bought together for our family like that just leave."

Whiteside and Turner have been together for 20 years. With the latest addition of twins, the couple has 12 children together ranging in age from about two months to 20 years.

Turner said things have been tough on the family since the fire. They have had to shuffle between a few hotels, and both parents have had to cut back at work. Their youngest two children are still in the hospital.

"I try not to cry, but I can't seem to help myself when I'm in the bathroom," said Whiteside.

Despite the setbacks, the children continue to attend school in the Riverview Gardens School District and participate in extracurricular activities. Whiteside said the district has been very supportive.

Due to lack of storage space at this time, the family is not yet seeking donations of clothing or other items. The family is hoping to find more stable housing where they can stay together until their home is repaired.

A GoFundMe page has been established to help the family pay for housing and other bills.