Fire kills two small children in Quitman County - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Family loses two small children in Quitman County fire

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GEORGETOWN, GA (WTVM) -

A mother and father put three small children to bed, and by the next morning, their house is completely destroyed and two of those three children are dead.

That nightmare is a reality for one Georgetown couple.

The father had to stand outside his burning home knowing that just beyond a wall of smoke, his two infant children lay dying inside and there was nothing he could do about it.  

Today, all that's left of this home on Meadowview Drive is a burned out frame and discarded children's toys in the yard.   Friday night, it was the place where two girls and a boy were raised by their loving parents.   By Saturday, it was the scene of a horrible tragedy.

Chief Phil Thomas of the Quitman County Fire Department revisited the scene of the fire Tuesday.

"Older mobile homes like this are usually pretty combustible, and it doesn't take much for it to get going.   It could have been just a matter of a couple minutes," said Thomas.

The father told firefighters he was sleeping on the couch Saturday morning when he was awakened by smoke.   A family spokesperson said the 4-year-old girl remembered advice she received from an expert to crawl on the floor to avoid smoke.  The father saw her crawling towards him, so he grabbed her first and rushed her out the door. But for the two-year-old and one-year-old still inside, it was too late.    

A neighbor, Marcus Peterson witnessed the tragedy unfold. 

"When they opened the door, they got hit in the face with a cloud of smoke, and they couldn't go all the way in like they wanted to get the kids," said Peterson. 

"Even after making repeated attempts to gain entry into the bedroom, he just wasn't able to get in there because of the nature of the fire- a fast moving fire in a mobile home," said Thomas.

Officials said George Barber III and Sidney Barber are the 107th, and 108th fire fatalities in the state of Georgia this year.  

"They have pretty bad fires, but usually people are able to get out of the house- they have enough notice to get out of the house, but this time they just weren't able to.   So it's a pretty bad fire from that point of view," said Thomas.

The family spokesperson said the mother was at work when she found out what happened.  The fire marshal is still investigating the cause of the fire.  

Chief Thomas said there were electrical problems in the house, but not in the place where the fire started, so it's too soon to say exactly what circumstance is to blame.   However, there's no doubt that a smoke detector would have made a big difference.

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