Fire Tragedy In Biloxi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/18/03

Fire Tragedy In Biloxi

Emotions overwhelmed Kenneth and Elizabeth Merrick Thursday morning, as they stared at the charred frame of what was once their home on Pine Street. Just hours earlier, a fire ignited inside, destroying their belongings, Christmas presents and decorations.

"Everything I had on that tree I made. It was all home made. I lost it all," Elizabeth Merrick said.

And the Merricks came very close to losing their family. While the couple was at work, their daughter, Autumn Tillman, her boyfriend, Terrell Boggan, and Tillman's three children were asleep inside. Boggan woke up to go to work and found the living room on fire.

"My daughter and granddaughter came outside first. They got them out, and Terrell had to bust the window open to get the boys out. He got cut up pretty bad doing it".

While Terrell was trying to reach the two boys, a man happened to be driving by. He jumped out of his car, and helped Terrell pull the two boys to safety. The man left before the family could thank them or get his name. The family says they may have lost everything in this fire, but they're still counting their blessings.

"I'm just glad the people that helped them were here. All the neighbors helped," Kenneth Merrick said.

"It hurts. I lost a lot of things I can't replace, like pictures. But other stuff's material things. As long as my daughter and grand babies are all right, that's all that matters," Elizabeth said.

Now, instead of Christmas ribbon, yellow police tape adorns the Merrick's burnt house. But they are determined not to let this fire ruin their Christmas.

"The best thing is everybody's alive and that's it. That's all I'm worried about," Kenneth said.

The two children, three-year old Clayton Mickelson and four-year old Christian Tillman, suffered smoke inhalation. Terrell Boggan received cuts on his arm while trying to rescue the youngsters. All three were treated and released from Biloxi Regional Medical Center. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

by Trang Pham-Bui

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