Couple rebuilding family after losing 7 kids in fire, welcomes child No. 13

Janelle and Ted Clouse sit with Gabriel, 4, Yvonne, 3, Gordon, 2, and Jedidiah, 11 months. (Facebook/People)

Blaine, Penn. — A Pennsylvania couple was devastated when seven of their eight children were killed in a fire five years ago.

Janelle and Ted Clouse lost Christina, 11, Isabelle, 9, Brady, 7, Hannah, 6, Heidi 4, Miranda, 18 months and Samantha, 9 months, on March 8, 2011. Their daughter Leah survived; she was 3.

Since then, the Clouses have welcomed four more children, and Janelle Clouse is pregnant with another.

"Time heals our pain, but we always remember, and we would never want to forget our babies," Janelle told People magazine. "All we can do is just keep looking forward. All we have is the future."

The family keeps a collage of photos of the seven children who died propped up on a fireplace mantel. Janelle and Ted said seeing the faces of their lost children reminds them that "every single moment" is precious and that nothing should be taken for granted.

"You have to move ahead, if you live in the past you're not really living," Ted told People. "But they will be with us, always."

The fire that killed the Clouses' children blazed in the family's farmhouse while Ted was out working and Janelle was tending to cows in a barn 100ft away from the family's home. While Janelle was milking the cows, Leah ran into the barn and told her mother that her baby sister, Miranda, was "playing with smoke."

"I went to the house and opened the door and the smoke knocked me down," Janelle said. "I knew if the fire was that strong, there was no one alive in my house."

The seven children died from a mix of carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation.

Fire officials think 18-month-old Miranda was probably holding a blanket too close to the space heater in the kitchen. They think she dragged the burning blanket into the living room, where it ignited couch cushions and spread.

Four months after the fire, Janelle gave birth to Gabriel.

"I was happy, but I had this terrible sense of guilt because it seemed like he replaced my dead children," Janelle said. "It was a bittersweet moment. Time healed that pain, though. I realized that he was an innocent baby that needed love."

She later gave birth to Yvonne, 3, Gordon, 2, and Jedidiah, 11 months. She's expected to give birth to another son in April.

But the Clouses will never forget the children they lost five years ago. Their new additions are just that -- additions, not replacements.

"We have 13 children," Ted said. "When people ask how many kids we have, we say 13."

"We talk about them all the time," Janelle said. "When the time is right, when the kids are a little older, we will tell them about the brave siblings they never go to meet."

Janelle and Ted Clouse have learned to "live but never forget" about the tragic accident.

Posted by People on Friday, March 18, 2016