Fire injures woman, two children|Oak Street blaze destoys three homes

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 8, 2010

Two children and their grandmother were at a Georgia burn center this morning after a roaring blaze Sunday afternoon shot flames high into the sky, destroyed their home and two of their neighbors’ homes on Oak Street.

Barbara Evans, 57, Stephon Evans, 8, and Robert Evans, 4, were flown to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, transferred from River Region Medical Center. A spokesman for the burn center, Anne Cordeiro, said all three were in serious condition this morning.

“They were burned pretty bad, most of the body on the children,” said Vicksburg Fire Chief Charles Atkins. “That’s pretty bad on a child.”

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The fire at their home at 2314 Oak St., was reported at about 2:30, and it quickly spread to homes just feet away north and south, at 2312 and 2316 Oak. The three were among four shotgun-type houses on the south end of the block in which historic Cedar Grove Mansion sits.

After working for hours to control and extinguish flames that could be seen across much of Vicksburg and from Louisiana, Vicksburg firefighters were back on the scene this morning fighting a small rekindling of the blaze, said firefighter Nathaniel Bell.

Atkins said no cause of the fire had been determined this morning, but witnesses reported a loud booming noise just after the fire erupted. Atkins said the source of the noise had not been found.

He said eight people lived in the Evans home, and at least one person in addition to the three victims was there when the blaze started. Barbara Evans’ daughter, Patricia Evans, was not injured.

Living at the other two homes were James W. Jackson and Leloa Poates, who lived at 2312 Oak, and a family of four with the last name of Davenport at 2316.

Ronald Davis of Vicksburg, who was visiting another neighbor on the street, saw the flames and ran to 2312 Oak before firefighters arrived.

“I kicked the door in to get the lady out,” he said.

Atkins said the fire was especially hot because of tin roofs on all of the houses.

The fire “won’t burn through to vent itself. We can’t put anyone in there because (the roof) falls in as it burns,” he said.

The Fire Marshal’s Office was called to aid in the investigation. “Anytime we have that many dwellings involved, they’re going to come in,” he said.

A Dodge van parked in the Evans driveway also was destroyed in the blaze.

The Vicksburg chapter of the American Red Cross rented hotel rooms Sunday night for all three families, a spokesman for the chapter said.

Sunday’s fire follows one on Second North and Jackson streets on Jan. 25 that destroyed a former store and five houses and a fire on Main Street on Feb. 24 that destroyed one home and damaged two others.

A former Utica volunteer firefighter, Leroy Evans, 32, 1762 Mississippi 27, has been charged with arson in the Jan. 25 blaze; no arrest has been made in the Main Street fire, which fire Investigator Leslie Decareaux has said also was arson. A suspect has been identified in the arson, Atkins said, but he declined to name him.

Contact Tish Butts at