Three trucks and around 30 firefighters from the White Plains Volunteer Fire Department and the Quad Cities Volunteer Fire Department responded to a house fire call near where Choccolocco Road intersects with Highway 9 around 4:09 a.m. The house was “fully involved” when they arrived, said Capt. Ronald Finch, the first man on the scene for the White Plains VFD.
“It was through the roof; from one end to the other was on fire,” Finch said, standing across the street watching the assistant fire chief hose down hot spots in the wreckage.
Three people, a father and two daughters, were living in the home near the intersection. All three made it out alive, but Miranda Davis went back inside through the side door to get a box of pictures, the family told firefighters. Her father went in after her but was unable to reach her before the heat and smoke forced him back outside. He was treated for smoke inhalation but declined transport to a hospital, said Lt. Kirk Ponder of the White Plains VFD.
Davis nearly made it back out of the house, Ponder said. Her body was found just a few feet from the door to the home’s screened-in back porch. She was pronounced dead at 6:30 a.m., Pat Brown, Calhoun County coroner, said. An autopsy is scheduled Monday.
Ponder and other firefighters stressed that anyone who escapes a house fire should never re-enter the house.
“If there’s just pictures in the house, don’t go back in,” said Ponder, standing beside the smoldering home. “There’s nothing in there as valuable as your life.”
Only half the carport’s outer wall and the chimney were left standing. A small sedan inside the carport and a pickup behind the house were scorched, parked with melted tires. Soapy foam covered the floors, starving recalcitrant flames under the home’s baseboards of oxygen.
“She almost made it out … she was lying right there,” Ponder said, pointing to a soot-covered spot on what he says was a screened-in porch. “It doesn’t take but one breath of air, and (smoke) gets in your blood system and you’re down.”
The cause of the fire was unknown Thursday, said Ray Cumby, deputy state fire marshal. It started in the front of the house, facing the road. Beyond that, he declined to discuss possible causes.
Star staff writer Jason Bacaj: 256-235-3546.