Investigators Research Deadly Fire That Killed Two Stone County Sisters

Monday, fire investigators began combing through the rubble of a Stone County home where two little girls died over the weekend. The fire happened Saturday in a neighborhood off of Pump Branch Road, but bad weather has stalled the investigation.

Now that the rain has cleared, fire Captain Wayne Cook says his team will work as long as it takes to find out what happened.

As investigators sift through what's left of Douglas Byrd's house, he relives the night he lost his two granddaughters - eight-year-old Courtney Miotto and her six-year-old sister Ashley Womack.

"I was trying to get in there to them but I couldn't. The fire was already at the door and I called them and they didn't answer," says Byrd.

Saturday night, the family had dinner at Byrd's home. And just like many other nights, the girls decided they wanted to spend the night at "Pappy's" house. But that's when things went terribly wrong.

"I went to see what it was first. Then I went to get the water hose to put it out. But by the time I got back, it was out of control," says Byrd.

Firefighters say the blaze could be seen from as Highway 49, a half mile away. Captain Wayne Cook says investigators are asking all the questions to find out what started the fire.

"Granddaddy was a smoker and that's one of the things that we are looking at. But we are looking at a number of things. The house had been added on to. There are numerous things we have to take into consideration before we make some sort of determination," says Cook.

Cook can't say how long the investigation will take. For the family, the pain of losing two beloved little girls will last forever.

"They were more like my children instead of grandchildren. They were loving and outgoing and everybody that met them loved them," says Byrd.

The funeral for Ashley and Courtney will be Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the chapel of Moore's Funeral Home in Wiggins. The girls will be buried in the same casket. There is also a fund set up to help with the arrangements at the Bank of Wiggins.