By CARL SMITH
Angela Carter and her children awoke in their bedroom in an unusual way Wednesday night.
A fire had begun in the neighboring bedroom of Carter’s mobile home on Lawson Lane and was threatening to consume the whole residence.
When Carter figured out what was going on, she sprang into action and began evacuating her children.
“I saw black, thick smoke when I got up, and it burned my chest,” Carter said. “The floor was hot on my feet. It was like standing on asphalt during the day.”
Carter grabbed her two daughters, 11 and 4, and made for the front exit. She also woke up her 7-year-old son, who was sleeping on a couch in the living room, and made sure he got out safely. No one was sleeping in the bedroom where the fire started.
At the same time as her daughter’s and grandchildren’s escape, Carter’s mother Ida had also been awoken by the smoke. At the time of the fire, Ida Carter was sleeping in a rear bedroom located on the opposite side of the trailer.
“I hollered at my daughter to make sure they were getting out,” she said. “I got clothes to put on and ran out the back door.”
As the family escaped the flames, Angela Carter said she gathered everyone away from the burning trailer.
“We just tried to get away from the house because stuff started popping on the inside,” she said.
Everyone seemed safe until family members realized Carter’s son ventured back into the still-burning trailer. Thomas McGee, Ida Carter’s nephew, said Ida herself went back to retrieve her grandson. McGee said family members believe the child was disoriented from sleep and the commotion, and may have been sleepwalking.
“When I came up to the fire, the first thing thought about was if everyone was OK. I was looking around to make sure everyone was out,” McGee said. “I’m surprised they got out alive. (Angela) told me when she woke up fire was above her head coming through the walls.”
Shortly after an emergency call was placed, county firefighters from East Oktibbeha and District 5 were dispatched to the scene — while addressed 1437B Blackjack Road, the mobile home is actually located on Lawson Lane — at approximately midnight.
“Firefighters found one end of the mobile home in flames and were assured all occupants had exited the trailer,” said Kirk Rosenhan, county fire services coordinator. “An aggressive interior attack was made by a team of EOC firefighters which quickly extinguished visible flames. There was considerable heat and smoke damage to the interior of the building. Firefighters ventilated the roof, but the it still took a while to clear the area.”
Rosenhan said firefighters were on scene for almost two and a half hours. The firefight itself was quick — only 300 gallons of water were used to extinguish the blaze, he said.
The Carters were treated on scene for minor injuries and smoke inhalation, but no one was seriously injured.
“We are extremely fortunate there were no injuries,” Rosenhan said. “The fire was quickly contained thanks to the good work of the firefighters.”
At this time, the cause of the fire is unknown, but investigators say arson has been ruled out.
The Carter family is currently staying in a Starkville hotel while local Red Cross officials assist the family in its time of need.
“The family was very fortunate they got out in time,” Rosenhan said. “We want to remind everyone to make sure they have a working smoke detector and if they call a county fire department, we will bring one to them.”