An 8-year-old boy died in a Sunday morning fire that caused people to jump for their lives out of a two-story apartment complex on Chambers Cove Drive.
Jarvis Raines, 8, died at The Medical Center of Central Georgia from injuries sustained in the fire, said Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones. His 11-year-old brother helped two younger siblings out, burning his hand and foot in the process, said his grandmother Helen McClendon.
The fire, which gutted much of her apartment, began sometime before 1 a.m. at Chambers Cove Apartments and apparently was caused by a pan of grease on the stove, Macon-Bibb County Fire Chief Jimmy Hartley said. The home did not have a smoke detector, Hartley said.
The fire burned their mother Alethea McClendon on her torso, Hartley said.
Waiting at the Augusta Burn Center, Helen McClendon said of her daughter, "She's in and out. She keeps crying. They're trying to stop her from thinking about her son. She ain't doing so good."
Alethea McClendon told firefighters that she was carrying Jarvis out of the apartment when she approached the kitchen where the fire started, Hartley said. Jarvis became scared, got loose and ran back to his bedroom, Hartley said. He was found in a closet and could not be revived, Hartley said.
But Hartley said the fire could have been worse if firefighters and residents hadn't acted as quickly.
"It could have easily been a multi-fatality fire," he said.
When firefighters arrived, residents inside the apartments were knocking on their windows to get the attention of the firefighters, Hartley said.
Twenty-seven people lived in the apartment building and eight people were removed from the building by firefighters, Hartley said. Eight people were injured in the fire, he said.
The blaze burned two units and caused smoke damage to the remaining six units.
Yvonne Dumas, 26, who lived above McClendon, awoke to a car horn, trying to alert her to the fire, she said.
She tried to get herself and her two children out of her front door but smoke blocked her path.
First she threw her 2-year-old daughter out the window to a neighbor below, she said. She was caught uninjured and was smiling in the back seat of Dumas' car Sunday afternoon.
After that, Dumas' 6-year-old son held on to her and they jumped together, she said.
"I had to jump with him because he was scared," she said.
"They said I landed on someone," she said. "It happened so fast."
She and her son received cuts from the broken glass surrounding the window. Her apartment is now smoke damaged, and she said she and her children were going to stay at a hotel.
"I'm thankful that I still have my life and my kids still have their lives," she said. "I am thankful to everyone who helped me out," she said.