Memphis Fire Department said three adults and six children died in an early morning house fire Monday.
Emergency crews rushed to the scene on Severson Avenue near James Street just before 1:30 a.m., when someone inside the home called 911 from a cell phone.
Investigators said the family was unable to get out of the home. The house had a security door and bars on the windows; the family was unable to open the security devices in time to escape.
Family members identified the adults who died in the fire as Carol Collier, Eloise Futrell, and LaKisha Ward. Six children between the ages of 3 and 16 also died in the fire; one child, identified as Cameron, is in the hospital in extremely critical condition.
Cameron previously played football for the Memphis Raider organization. That group released the following statement after learning the news:
The Memphis Raider organization is saddened by the family’s loss and praying that Cameron makes it through the tragedy. It’s always hard to hear about children dying, but it’s especially hard when it is a player of your own. We are praying for the family.
Firefighters arrived at the home less than four minutes after receiving the call. They said they only saw light smoke inside the home. It then took 15 minutes for fire crews to put out the fire and pull the family of 10 out of the home.
The fire only burned 25 percent of the home. MFD said most of the fatalities were caused by smoke inhalation.
Seven of the 10 family members died in the fire. The three remaining children were immediately taken to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. Two of those children died.
Memphis Fire Department originally reported the fatalities as four adults and five children, but later learned one of the people they thought was an adult was actually under 18 years old.
Memphis Fire Department Director Gina Sweat said this fire is one of the most devastating in the department’s history.
“This is the most tragic fire incident in Memphis since the 1920s,” Sweat said. “Nothing can truly prepare us for this heartbreaking event.”
“In my 27 years with the Memphis Fire Department, I have never seen this amount of victims on one incident,” MFD spokesman Lt. Wayne Cooke said. “We sincerely pray for this family and for the loved ones of this family.”Memphis Fire Department said the fire started in the living room.
Cooke added that firefighters will receive counseling after this incident.
“We do provide our firefighters with critical stress debriefing,” Cooke said. “All those who responded to the scene, along with some of our emergency dispatch operators, will receive that assistance.”
Fire investigators said the fire started in living room.
Firefighters said they found a smoke detector, but it was too damaged to tell if it was working.
Cooke said that smoke detectors are available for free at the Fire Museum of Memphis.
Over the next few days, MFD will be doing a smoke detector blitz to put working smoke detectors in homes around Memphis.
Cooke also recommended that all family members have an escape plan for every room of the house.
“Know how to get out of every room in your home at least two ways,” Cooke said.