Fire victim: "All I saw were black and orange flames"

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - On Saturday morning a pregnant woman said she and her two children had to run out of their burning Biloxi rental home.

"All I saw were black and orange flames. I just got them out of the house and called the fire department," home renter, Frances Sims said.

Sims, her son and her daughter were able to make it out of the house safely. Firefighters said they got the call at 8:47a.m. Inside the house on Southern Avenue, they found shooting flames, heavy smoke, and rising temperatures.

"In excess of 300 to 500 degrees probably," Battalion Chief Joe Boney said.

With recent temperatures in the 90s and higher Biloxi firefighters are being extra careful when going into burning houses. Officials said usually nine firefighters would respond to this type of blaze. In this case-12 responded.

"We have a big concern of rotating our guys in and out and overheating. So as this call went, I brought an extra truck in just to cover that," said Boney. "I could rotate the firefighters fighting the fire out a lot more so they wouldn't get too exhausted too quick. Usually 30 to 35 minutes. With this kind of heat, we usually try to keep it down to 15 to 20 minutes at a time."

Even with all the precautions, officials said it's ultimately up to each firefighter to know his or her limits.

"He's the only one that can tell us. We can kind of watch him, but with all this gear on, we can't see them real well," Boney said. "But they're trained. They're trained to tell us when they're getting overheated, when they need to come out and take a break."

Boney said the firefighters get water and cool down in rotations. They also regularly change their air bottles before they go back into a fire, if needed.

Sims said she didn't have renter's insurance and this is her second time losing everything.

"I'm starting all over again. Not only from Katrina, but also from a house fire," said Sims.

She said her three-year-old and seven-year-old lost all their clothing in the fire. Her daughter wears a 10-12 in clothing and a size 4 shoe. Her son wears a 4T-5T and a size 11 shoe. Anyone able to help is urged to call 228-257-5232.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.