Child fire victims remain in hospital

Published 11:49 am Tuesday, April 19, 2011

As two children recovered at River Region Medical Center Monday, the neighbor who caught the pair as they jumped from their burning second-floor apartment told how she was awakened and acted.

“Really, it’s my oldest child that saved them,” said Kebra Smith, who lives in the New Main apartment below 8-year-old Summer Lee and 7-year-old Marcus Lee Jr. “She came and woke me up because she was hearing them screaming.”

Both children were in good condition this morning, hospital spokesman Allen Karel said.

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The children’s bedroom, at the back of the apartment, had become filled with smoke in the fire that started in the front room of the home at 2727 Alcorn Drive, off Mission 66, at about 2:30 a.m.

Vicksburg Fire Investigator Leslie Decareaux said this morning that the fire remains under investigation.

“It was only through the grace of God that those children got out of that building,” Decareaux said.

Smith said she was awakened by her 15-year-old daughter who heard screams from the children.

Smith said the children were partially hanging out the apartment window when she arrived at the back of the two-story complex and she told them to jump.

The children live with their mother, Shemika Thomas, who said she had left the children with a cousin while she went out with a friend.

The cousin, identified by Thomas as Johnnie Davis, 23, had left the apartment to smoke a cigarette and visit with a friend when the fire broke out, she said.

Thomas said Davis later told her that he saw smoke, but did not realize it was coming from her building.

He tried to return to the apartment in an attempt to extinguish the blaze, but was held back by Vicksburg police officers, the first emergency workers to arrive at the scene, said Thomas.

On Monday, Thomas thanked her neighbor.

“I’ve really thanked her. I was just extremely happy,” she said. “I cried, but I was really happy,” said Thomas.

The Vicksburg chapter of the American Red Cross is lodging the Thomas family and assisting others from the same building, where electricity was turned off after the fire and was to remain off until an electrician checks the connections, said fire investigator Lt. Tommy Stewart.

“We only lodged three of the families but we are assisting all eight families, which includes 24 people,” said Emergency Services Director Janice Sawyer.

The Monday fire was the fourth in Vicksburg in less than a week.