CLINTON, Miss. (AP) — Fire officials will investigate whether bars on the windows of a central Mississippi home prevented a mother and her six children from escaping a fire, a city spokesman said.
The bars were intended to keep burglars out. Investigators will also be looking for smoke alarms at the home, Clinton City spokesman Mark Jones told news outlets.
The father was the lone survivor of the blaze early Saturday morning in Clinton, a city of about 26,500 people just outside the capital city of Jackson.
Neighbors and friends said they are devastated.
“It’s just horrible,” West Browning, a childhood friend of the father, told WLBT. WLBT identified the father as Jake Presley.
Browning said he couldn’t imagine what his friend was going through.
Officials identified the dead as: Brittany Presley, 33, and her children Landon Brookshire, 15; Lane Presley, 13; Lawson Presley, 12; Grayson Presley, 6; Malcom Presley, 4; and Felicity Presley, 1.
The father tried unsuccessfully to save family members and suffered smoke inhalation, burns, cuts and bruises, according to Jones.
Allen Short, a neighbor, said Jake Presley’s hair was singed and he had a big cut on his arm where he broke a window trying to get into the home.
“The kids were really nice and the whole neighborhood is just destroyed about this whole thing,” Short told WLBT.
Brittany Presley was an elementary school teacher, the Canton Public School District said in a statement on Facebook.
Four of the children attended Clinton area schools, Clinton Public School District Superintendent Tim Martin said. He said the parents were very involved.
“Clinton is a very close-knit community, so when something so tragic like this happens, it affects the entire community,” Martin told the Clarion Ledger.