In the small Missouri town of Defiance, tragedy struck as a house exploded, claiming the lives of two young children.

Due to severe weather, classes were canceled at school, leaving four-year-old Julian Keiser and six-year-old Jamison Keiser at home. Sadly, they were unable to escape the fire that consumed their home near Highway 94, just outside St. Louis, and passed away early Friday morning.

Their mother, Evelyn Turpiano, and grandparents, Jennifer and Vern Ham, were able to escape and find safety, according to officials and a GoFundMe page.

A neighbor, Sharon Oberlag, remembered the boys as “the nicest little boys” who were fond of school. Since classes were canceled due to the cold, Jaiden and Julian were home when the explosion occurred.

Firefighters were unable to reach the boys in time as the house was already engulfed in flames upon their arrival. Despite attempting to enter through a window, they could not locate the children until later when their bodies were discovered.

Oberlag heard a sound like an explosion from the house and expressed gratitude for the community’s efforts to assist. Tragically, they were unable to rescue the neighboring boys, Nick and Travis.

The cause of the explosion and fire is still under investigation. The Hoffmann Family of Companies, owned by Missourians David and Jerri Hoffmann, owned the building. The Hoffmanns have been acquiring wineries and restaurants in the area with the aim of transforming it into the Midwest’s Napa Valley.

The family is devastated by the loss of their children and grandchildren. A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to support them, raising over $145,000 as of Monday morning.

Neighbors and community members fondly remember the boys and mourn their loss. Laura Emerson, a neighbor, left a Christmas wreath and plush toys at the site of the destroyed house, recalling the boys’ joy and affection.

As the family grieves the loss of their cherished boys, they will require emotional support along with financial contributions to cover funeral expenses and rebuild their lives.