Thursday, May 21, 2009
House fire claims life of Potts Camp resident
By SUE WATSON
Lynda McAlexander, an employee with Mississippi Department of Transportation at the Holly Springs office, died Wednesday, May 13, when her house went up in flames.
The cause of the fire has not been determined, according to Potts Camp firefighter Lt. Ricky Barnett. It was called in by a patrolling deputy for the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department who noticed the smoke while on patrol.
“The house was involved when we arrived on the scene shortly after 11 p.m.,” Barnett said. “The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the county and the state as is done when there is a casualty.”
County coroner James Richard Anderson was called to the scene at 3:13 a.m. Thursday, May 14, after McAlexander’s body was located in the burned-out structure. Anderson pronounced death at 3:45 a.m. Thursday. The body was transported to Holly Springs Funeral Home and Anderson sent the body to Jackson for autopsy Thursday afternoon, he said.
Anderson made no ruling on the cause and manner of death, pending the findings of autopsy by the state medical examiner’s office and subsequent toxicology findings, he said.
Barnett praised the work of firefighters on “a good job working together coming in and getting the fire knocked out.”
He said the community is still in shock over this second house fire fatality in about two years. A man died in a house fire in the town several years ago.
“We were all shocked, as we can usually get there and put out a fire with minimal problem,” he said. “This ain’t supposed to happen here. Generally, people see the fire quicker and notify the fire department quicker and put it out with minimal damage.”
Barnett said the McAlexander home was located on a dead-end street in a subdivision largely occupied by older people who typically go to bed early, on average, and would not have noticed anything unusual going on. The fact that the home is on a dead-end street meant that there was less traffic going through the area, whereas more traffic would have increased the chances of the smoke and fire being detected sooner.
“I’m sorry it happend,” he said, sadly. “Ms. Lynda sure was a nice lady.”
Barnett has been a volunteer firefighter for 12 years and said it is hard to take such a loss of life.
“It’s tough to keep doing it, especially when you have a situation. But somebody’s got to do it,” he said, about working in the fire service.
About 20 to 25 firefighters fought to get the fire under control and put out, he said. About 10 firefighters from the Holly Springs Fire Department, including fire chief Kenny Holbrook, helped Potts Camp fight the fire, he said. About four firefighters from the Waterford Fire Department also came to help and provided backup fire and first responder service backup while the Potts Camp group worked to put the fire out. It was extinguished in about 45 minutes to one hour after fire crews arrived, he said.
Sheriff’s deputies and Potts Camp police officers helped with traffic and crowd control, he said. MedStat sent ambulance service.
“There were lots of people, lots of people,” he said.
Sheriff Kenny Dickerson and a team of investigators were on the scene early Thursday conducting a thorough investigation. Dickerson said the investigation was launched immediately after the fire in order to collect evidence should there have been any possibility of foul play.
McAlexander lived alone in the home following the death of her husband last fall.
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