Flames to sunshine, heroes come together|[4/28/05]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 28, 2005

On Saturday morning, when most his age were sleeping in, 11-year-old Clyde Kendrick had his eyes wide open.

Three lives were saved because of it.

Kendrick was leaving his home on Greenbriar Drive at about 7:45 when he saw a flame in the window of the home across the street.

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“I said, ‘Dad!’ and pointed at the house,” Kendrick said.

Kendrick, his Vicksburg Angels teammate Lamar Anthony III and their fathers, Garry Lee and Lamar Anthony Jr., were up early, headed to a youth baseball tournament in Canton when Kendrick spotted the fire at the home of Eleanor Jackson and Richard Scott Sr., 108 Greenbriar Drive.

Inside the house, Scott, 66, had just smelled the smoke and was trying to wake his two grandsons, 3-year-old William Shelby Jr. and 2-year-old Jeremiah Shelby.

“I smelled smoke, got up and went to the kitchen. I looked down the den and saw the wall on fire,” Scott said.

Scott, who normally wears prosthetic leg but did not have it on at the time, crawled beneath the smoke to rescue his grandsons. At the same time, Lee and the elder Anthony beat on the front door and window, trying to rouse anyone who might be inside.

“I saw his truck there, so I knew there were kids there,” Lee said. Normally, 10 people – Jackson, Scott, their daughter, five grandchildren and two nieces – would have been at the home.

“There’s usually a bunch of kids there … My heart was beating 1,000 miles per hour,” Lee said.

Most of the children, however, had spent the night with friends or relatives. Jackson had left two hours earlier to begin her shift as a cook and cashier at Ameristar Hotel and Casino.

“For some reason, that particular night, everybody was scattered out. Usually they’re down there sleeping. The two big ones would’ve been right there where it started,” Jackson said.

After getting no response from inside the house, Anthony kicked the front door open and found William standing in the doorway.

After rescuing the 3-year-old, Anthony and Lee ran to Scott.

“He kept telling me, ‘(Jeremiah)’s here, he’s here,’ but I couldn’t see him,” Anthony said.

“I can understand firsthand how they say the smoke will get you before the fire,” Lee added. The plumes were growing progressively thicker. After getting Scott to safety, Anthony ran in and out of the house twice, in an unsuccessful effort to try to find Jeremiah.

“I went back in the third time and the kid had made it into the living room,” Anthony said.

By the time the children were out safely, Lee had begun hosing down the house. Firefighters arrived quickly, but the house still sustained near-total damage.

There is something of a happy ending, though.

Ameristar, through its “Sunshine” emergency fund, has set Jackson and her family up in one of their mobile homes and given them money to buy food and clothing. Donations have also been taken at several area churches for the family, though they still need clothing for girls ages 13, 12, 9 and 5 and boys ages 10, 3 and 2, as well as men’s and ladies’ clothing, Jackson said.

Also, Kendrick and the younger Anthony made it to their baseball game on time. The Angels finished second in the baseball tournament.

Best of all, no one was injured.

“God was just right there with them,” Jackson said.