Mayor honors first responders

Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. Monday recognized the city’s and the county’s first responders for their efforts in fighting a Dec. 14 fire that claimed the lives of two young children.

The fire damaged two adjacent homes at 713 and 715 Johnson Street, and claimed the lives of 16-month-old Mariah Dearman and 27-month-old Glen Williams. Their uncle, Thomas Dearman, 24, was severely burned in an unsuccessful attempt to save the children. He was taken to the burn unit at Merit Health Central Mississippi, where he is in stable condition, according to a hospital spokesperson.

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The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

“The Vicksburg Fire Department, the police department, and the Culkin Fire Department, I saw (them work) firsthand, and I want to thank you for your professionalism and your work ethic,” Flaggs said. “There was nothing you could have done different to save those kids; (but) y’all never stopped. We really appreciate that and I shall never forget it.”

Culkin volunteer firefighters sent a truck to assist in the fire and manned Stations 3 and 8 during the fire.

“I really saw the firemen at their best, I didn’t see one of them stop for a break or even get water. They got at it and they stayed at it. To the family of those children, we did everything we could,” Flaggs said.

Flaggs praised the efforts of Fire Chief Craig Danczyk and deputy chiefs Harry Martin and Derrick Stamps

“They stayed on top of it. Chief Danczyk and the deputy chiefs Martin and Stamps were on the scene the whole while, and that was about a four-hour fire.

“I saw Chief Danczyk pulling them together at one time, and that was when they controlled the fire and got the hot spots down and started looking for those children.

“The chiefs got in there themselves. I thought they’d never find them. The house was completely demolished and it had slid down the ravine. I saw them with their hands going through the rubble, and they were determined to find those children.”

The fire began about 9:39 p.m. when one of the residents at 713 Johnson said they heard a popping noise and looked outside to see the home at 715 on fire. Adrienna Williams, the children’s mother, was asleep in the home with the children when she smelled smoke. She told officers she tried to look for the children, but the home was dark and she became overcome with smoke and had to leave.

She was taken to Merit Health River Region where she was treated and released.

Danczyk said the age of the home at 715 Johnson and the materials used to build the wood frame home made fighting the fire difficult, and delayed firefighters’ attempt to locate the children. He said they were found close together in a room and covered by debris from the fire.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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