The fire broke out around 3:15 Thursday morning at 4810 30th Street. 62-year old William Martin and his 47-year old wife Carolyn died. Eight others got out, including a 7-week old baby. Gulfport Police, the state fire marshal, and Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire agents will help Gulfport Fire investigators try to determine if arson caused the fatal fire.
When firefighters arrived, the front of the house was in flames, fanned by high winds. The entire house was destroyed, leaving behind a grieving family.
"Everybody's been havin' a real hard time with it all day today cause everything in the house is gone, Aunt Ann's gone, Uncle Bill's gone," says the couple's niece Kellie Winters.
Winters says her Aunt Ann and Uncle Bill Martin always opened their Gulfport home to family and friends who needed a place to stay. Winters says her aunt died trying to make sure everyone else got out of the burning house.
"Aunt Ann came to the door and checked to see who was outside already. Uncle Bill wasn't. She turned and went back in after him and she didn't make it back in. When she went back in she stopped right at the door, that's where she fell and the house continued to burn."
One of Ann Martin's friends was staying at the house. Dorothy Hibbens escaped through a window. She says she last talked to Mrs. Martin as the fire raged.
"I tried to open my bedroom door and the flames started coming in, and the smoke, so I shut my bedroom door and I said, 'I can't get out.' And she said, 'I can't get out either' and that's when I threw my bedroom window open, pushed the screen out and fell out of it. I got out with my life. That's what we all did," Hibbens says.
Autopsies are expected to be performed Friday on the victims.