SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Firefighters often use daylight saving time to remind people to check their smoke alarms. Every home should have working detectors with batteries in good condition. Every rental property should guarantee this, but sometimes things fall through the cracks. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 40 percent of U.S. residential fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms, while 23 percent occurred in homes without working smoke alarms.
This reminder comes amid a grave time for those who knew Craig Mackie, a 30 year old man raised in Scottsbluff, Nebraska and who was living in Springfield, Missouri. On March 7, 2019, Mackie’s house caught on fire near Hillcrest and Elm. Firefighters went into the house looking for victims and found Mackie. He was unresponsive and covered in smoke. Emergency responders did CPR on Mackie for roughly 20 minutes before taking him to a hospital. The resuscitation efforts didn’t save him. He died from his injuries. His dog inside the home also died.
Firefighters say the fire started in the attic. They found Mackie toward the front of the house; firefighters think he was trying to get out. The house had no working smoke detectors. Little damage is visible on the outside of the home, but it had significant smoke damage inside. The house is small at around 672 square feet and likely quickly filled up with smoke. The house has two bedrooms and one bathroom. It was built back in 1931.
Alexis Atwood lives next door. She noticed smoke billowing from the roof and was about to call 911 when firefighters arrived. They asked Atwood if anyone lived in the home or if it was vacant.
“I said I know for sure one man, there might be a woman and a dog as well,” said Atwood. “So he ran in there and then they dragged him out, and he was like covered in smoke, and not breathing or anything.”
A U-Haul was found outside his home. Neighbors said he planned to move later in the day. Earlier in the week, Mackie told them he should have left a long time ago and that the house was condemned. He recently received his tax income return and was ready to find a more suitable place to live.
An investigation is underway to find out what caused the fire. Fire investigators said the lab results will take several months. This is the second fire-related death in Springfield in 2019.
Mackie had returned to Springfield in 2017 after traveling and living in different parts of the country since 2011. He had also lived in the city from 2014 to 2015. When he left in 2011, he had almost completed his undergrad degree in English at Drury University, a private liberal arts school. Friends said he was drawn to Portland, Oregon and wanted to experience a new city, so he put his studies on hold and moved. At some point Mackie moved to Denver, Colorado, where he worked to help homeless people, often those who struggled with addiction problems. Friends said he saved a drunken woman once who could have died out in the cold. She wandered away from the shelter and was hallucinating — Mackie told friends she put up a good fight, but he refused to let her go into the dark. His travels also took him to Alaska where he worked to clean a movie theater and live nearby his sister. Craig worked at several jobs over the years from janitorial work to in the kitchen.
Mackie was an RA at Drury, he was a regular of the Springfield downtown community, and he helped grow a church that’s no longer in service, The Front Porch. He was a worship leader there. His friends said he returned to the city in 2017 to establish a steady path and finish up his undergrad studies. Mackie wanted to find a steady income and was tired of drifting from Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Colorado, Nebraska, and Missouri. He loved his friends and was known for his deep philosophical thoughts and his wild sense of humor. In taking on several different jobs, he also became an excellent cook. He loved writing and music. He had a deep, unsatiated love of coffee. He was also a powerhouse at Ultimate Frisbee. His friends have poured out their love on his Facebook and the loss is noticeable for many. Mackie supported the LGBTQ+ community and attended GLO meetings in Springfield.