Window bars trapped 6 children and their mother inside an 'accidental' fire: Officials

MattGush/iStock(CLINTON, Miss.) — A deadly house fire in Clinton, Mississippi, in which six children and their mother perished has been ruled an accident, but bars on the outside of a bedroom window and inoperable smoke detectors lessened their chances for escape, officials said.

Brittney Presley and her six children — Lane, Lawson, Grayson, Malcom and Felicity Presley and Landon Brookshire — died inside their home near the corner of Old Vicksburg and Hobby Farms Roads early Saturday morning.

The children’s father escaped the blaze. He remains hospitalized and is expected to have skin grafting surgery, said Clinton Fire Chief Jeff Blackledge at a press conference on Tuesday.

Officials with the state’s fire marshal determined on Monday that the fire was an electrical fire that was an accident. Fire Marshal Mike Chaney said in a statement that the fire started in the attic and there were no working smoke alarms inside the single family home that was a rental property for the Presley family.

“Without smoke alarms, there was no early detection and it may have prevented the victims from getting out in time … investigators believe metal bars on the windows of the home played a small role in the deaths,” said Chaney.

Clinton Mayor Phil Fisher said that rental properties are inspected by the city every two years and the now-charred house that was built in 1951 passed inspection in 2018 and was due for inspection in June.

Regarding the metal bars, Fisher said “they were not easy to open from the inside of the house.”

Blackledge said the fire broke out around 12:30 a.m. and firefighters started putting out the blaze four minutes later and fought the flames for 40 minutes.

When the fire was under control, five members of the family were found in the front bedroom and two were in the back bedroom, said Blackledge.

“It’s being looked at by investigators on how the husband got out,” said Blackledge.

Blackledge urged families to create and practice a fire escape plan and once outside of the house to “not go back inside even for a million dollars or a pet.”

One of the family’s pets also died.

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