Early morning house fire leaves Vicksburg woman dead, injures second occupant

Published 9:22 am Wednesday, January 12, 2022

An early morning house fire on Wednesday left one person dead and another seriously injured.

Opal Owens, 89, suffered second-and third-degree burns on 100 percent of her body and after efforts to save her by a multi-agency response, she was pronounced dead at the scene Vicksburg Fire Department Chief Craig Danczyk said.

“Medically, there was nothing we were able to do,”Danczyk said.

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Gus Salley, 87, who also lived at the home, suffered injuries from smoke inhalation and second-degree burns on much of his body and was taken to CMMC in West Jackson by Ambulance 20.

As of 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Danczyk said Salley was in stable, but serious, condition.

Salley had tried to get Owens to safety but was unable to get her out of the home.

“Based on the injuries to both, we believe Mr. Salley did everything he could to save her and actually received burn injuries from those actions,” Danczyk said.

Owens had very limited mobility and at times had relied on the fire department for help.

“We had been to this address before with lift assistance, a service we provide to the community,” Danczyk said.

The fire began at 5:23 a.m. at the residence and after Salley had tried to get Owens out of the house, Danczyk said, “He called for help and their neighbor called 911.”

The Vicksburg Police Department was the first agency on the scene, followed by Engine 2 from Indiana Avenue and Ambulance 20.

Vicksburg Fire Department units responding were Battalion Chief Tim Love, Engine 2, Engine 8, Ladder 3, Rescue, Ambulance 20 and Ambulance 80.

The State Fire Marshal arrived on site at approximately 8:30 a.m. for a joint investigation with VFD investigator Nathaniel Williams.

Danczyk said the fire had originated in the master bedroom and was caused by “smoking in the bed.”

Terri Cowart Frazier contributed to this report.