Blaze reduces home to rubble

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 18, 2002

Culkin Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Jerry Briggs, left, and volunteer Bubba Love work to extinguish the blaze.(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[01/18/2002]Three people lost their home Thursday when fire spread from a wood heater and consumed the structure just after the last resident had left for the morning.

Keisha Whatley, 23; her brother, Dan Whatley, 22; and her great-uncle, Willie Smith, 83, 1606 Greenhill Road, lived in the three-bedroom mobile home at 1606 Greenhill Drive, a gravel road that runs north from U.S. 80 east of Vicksburg, said the Whatleys’ mother, Betty Whatley, who is Smith’s niece. Keisha Whatley was visiting family in Sharkey County, Betty and Dan Whatley were at work elsewhere and Smith was keeping Betty Whatley’s mobile home next door.

Nothing was left of the mobile home, but a stack of firewood was left beside the smoldering rubble.

Smith said he lost everything in the blaze. “I own what I got on, that’s it,” he said.

Volunteer firefighters from the Culkin Volunteer Fire Department, dispatched at 10:25 a.m., essentially cooled the ashes, Warren County volunteer firefighter coordinator Kelly Worthy said.

There was an apparent delay between the fire’s start and the call to E-911, Worthy said. At least two neighbors did report the fire to E-911, including one, Elizabeth Tate, who lives some 300 yards away.

The official cause of the fire was still under investigation, Worthy said, but Keisha Whatley said she believes it spread from the wood heater.

Typical mobile homes have an aluminum skin, which makes them tend to “hold fire better,” so that when inside fires do breach walls they are more difficult to turn back, Worthy said.