Barn destroyed by fire on Finney Road outside Murphysboro

A barn destroyed by an explosion and fire on Finney Road outside Murphysboro. 

MURPHYSBORO — Two neighbors who were friends were the men killed in a deadly explosion Friday afternoon in Murphysboro, according to their obituaries.

The men were identified as Freddie L. Ellis, 77, and his neighbor David Carl Newfarmer-Kleinschmidt Jr., 31, according to Teresa Basinger from Pettett Funeral Home. The funeral home is handling arrangements for the men, both of whose funerals are Tuesday morning. The two men's obituaries also said their deaths were the result of an explosion and fire at a barn in Murphysboro.

The Southern Illinoisan is awaiting the Illinois State Police's confirmation of the men's deaths and details about what caused the explosion.

A daughter of one of the men said on the scene Friday the two men were working in the barn near a house off Finney Road when there was an explosion that lit the barn on fire sometime before 4 p.m. Friday.

“All I know is that something blew up, and then the garage engulfed in flames,” Ellis' daughter, Melody Hill, said. “They called me at work at 4 o’clock. It was right at 4 o’clock.”

“They don’t know (about the cause)," she said. She said on Friday afternoon the fire marshal and investigators were on the scene, and the fire was out by the time she arrived.

Hill, whose father created and ran Ellis Tree Service until his retirement a few years ago, said her father was in the barn working, and Newfarmer-Kleinschmidt was assisting him, but she does not know what they were working on.

Ellis served in the U.S. Navy and was a member of the American Legion Post No. 127, according to his obituary. He attended the Lighthouse Apostolic Church in Murphysboro.

Ellis started working in his teens and was a workaholic when it came to his tree service, according to his obituary. He also liked his cows.

Newfarmer-Kleinschmidt was a 2005 graduate of Operation Rebound and worked building his own real estate rental business, according to his obituary. He occasionally helped Ellis.

stephanie.esters@thesouthern.com / 618-351-5805 / On Twitter: @scribeest

janis.esch@thesouthern.com / 618-351-5082 / On Twitter: @janisesch_SI

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Stephanie Esters is a reporter covering Murphysboro and Perry County.

Janis Esch is a reporter for The Southern covering Carbondale.

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