HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Flames ripped through a home overnight in Harrison County, and a father and son barely made it out alive.
Randy Dedeaux was jolted awake by the sound of smoke detectors. With flames engulfing the walls around him and his son, Dedeaux knew his only option was to escape through his bedroom window.
By the time the flames were out, the home was just a charred shell. Dedeaux was counting his blessings that he and his 2-year-old son, Jax, were alive.
"You don't ever know what will happen. People take stuff for granted, and it can happen in a hurry," said Dedeaux.
Dedeaux built the house down a gravel driveway off Talley Shaw Rd. with his father, and the emotion of seeing it go up in flames caught up to him in the morning light. Dedeaux knew these material things could be replaced. Jax, on the other hand, could not.
"He's my world," said Dedeaux.
One of the most chilling and sobering parts of this story lies in a simple item of maintenance. Every year, Dedeaux makes a point to check all of the smoke detectors in his house on his birthday. His birthday was just one week earlier than this tragedy.
During the annual check, he replaced one of the detectors and changed the batteries in the others. It was a few minutes out of his day that proved to be a bigger blessing than he ever expected.
"If not, we wouldn't be here today," said Dedeaux.
Now, he's left picking up the pieces.
"Figuring out where to go next. Next step to make," he said.
At the same time, he has a lot to be thankful for. The blaze took eight units and 20 firemen to extinguish. The cause is still being investigated.