Fire Claims Child's Life, Leaves Mother In Critical Condition - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/16/03

Fire Claims Child's Life, Leaves Mother In Critical Condition

When volunteer firefighters arrived, they knew two people were trapped inside this home, a mother and son.

"Inside it was heavy thick smoke. It was hot. I didn't have an air-pack on for the simple reason the air packs are on our fire trucks, which hadn't arrived yet. But I felt it was more important for me to take a chance... and go in and save whoever was in there," Bayside Volunteer Fire Chief John Favaloro said.

"As we made our way in the building there was fire and flames everywhere, smoke was all the way down to the floor, and we had to crawl on our hands and knees to be able to retrieve the lady," Duane Wray, with the Clermont Harbor Volunteer Fire Department said.

Judy Davis was in one bedroom. Nine year old Chance was in another. Both were unconscious.

"I took the first person from Duane and laid her on the porch," East Hancock Volunteer Fire Chief Allen Sekinger said.

"Saw a child laying on the bed grabbed the child onto outside," Favaloro said.

But their efforts weren't enough to save the boy. Chance died at the hospital.

Relatives told WLOX News they fear space heaters inside the home may have started the fire, though investigators have not come up with an official cause.

"One of the things that's popping in my mind now, when I made entrance in the house I didn't hear smoke alarms going off. Could a smoke alarm deterred this, and this little piece of equipment save these people?" Favaloro asked.

Even if these volunteer firefighters could answer that question, it wouldn't make this day any easier for them or the family.

"Things like this don't happen everyday," Sekinger said.

Judy Davis was taken to Singing River Hospital in Jackson County. As of Friday night, she was in critical condition.

Her 17 year old daughter Courtney was also at home when the fire started. She was able to escape.

The Davis family lives on the corner of Fricke Road and Buddy Lane, just west of the Waveland City limits. It's a tight knit community, and word spread fast that Chance had died.

Since kindergarten, Chance has attended Gulfview Elementary. He was in the 4th grade. Needless to say, the news left teachers in shock.

"Very sweet child, had no enemies, very close to all of the 4th grade, not just his class. We're a family here, we're not just an institution. When something happens to one of our families it happens to all of us," Reading Teacher Pat LaFontaine said.

The school brought in grief counselors to help classmates deal with the tragedy. The principal says the counselors will stay at the school as long as they are needed.

by Al Showers

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