Thursday, September 25, 2008
County sees first fire fatality of year
By SUE WATSON
A house fire took the life of a Marshall County woman on Wednesday, Sept. 17.
Martha Dawson, 80, of 152 Springdove Road, off Cayce Road, died while being transported to Memphis via Hospital Wing, according to Tracy Jeffries, Marshall County fire investigator. Dawson was alone in the house at the time and was blind, he said.
Victoria Fire Department was the first on the scene, according to chief Richard Patterson.
“I was the first one on the scene and broke the door down,” he said. “It was covered in smoke when I kicked the door in.”
Three other fire departments - Byhalia, Cayce and Red Banks - also responded to the call at about 7:10 p.m., according to chief Leland Reed of the Byhalia Fire Department. Shane Hicks, a volunteer fireman for Byhalia and a full-time fireman with the Horn Lake Fire Department, and Scott Arnold with the Victoria Fire Department successfully retrieved Dawson from the burning house, Reed said.
Dawson had called a neighbor, who in turn called 911, Jeffries said. The neighbors attempted to go inside the house but were unable to assist due to heavy smoke, he said. The fire began in the back of the house where Dawson’s living room is located. Dawson’s son, who lived with her, is a truck driver and was out of town.
Dawson was airlifted at 8:27 p.m. and had sustained facial and arm burns, but Jeffries said she is believed to have died of smoke inhalation. Dawson has children living in the Southaven and Collierville areas, he said.
The cause of the fire has not been established, Jeffries said. The county fire investigator, the state fire marshal and the coroner met Friday with members of Dawson’s family and continue to investigate the cause of the fire, he said. These three offices investigate a fire when there is a fatality, Jeffries said.
About 15 firemen assisted in the recovery effort and putting out the blaze, he said.
“I want to thank everyone on the scene and to give my regards to the family,” Chief Patterson said.
Jeffries added, “Everybody did a good job - the local fire departments, the ambulance service and Hospital Wing.”
Victoria Fire Department receives more than 100 fire and medical calls a year and about 100 other calls to assist other departments, Patterson said.
October is Fire Prevention Month – a nationwide effort to educate the public on fire safety. Fire departments reach out to remind the public to change the batteries in their fire alarms with the change from Daylight Savings Time to ordinary time.
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