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Victims of fatal fire identified

The duplex apartment at 44 Miller Circle in Pembroke where three people - includiing a 14-month-old baby - were killed after a Sunday morning fire.


Pembroke fire kills three


Teresa Howard, 36, Raphel Wadley, 36, and Dorian Howard, 14 months, were killed early Sunday morning after a fire erupted around 4 a.m. in Howard’s duplex apartment at 44 Miller Circle.

Pembroke Police Officer Jim Jeffers was first to the blaze after being flagged down in the city parking lot. He was approaching the burning apartment when the dispatch call went out, according to Interim Pembroke Police Chief Sean Strickland.

"Jeffers was able to get the child out, but the child unfortunately did not survive," Strickland said. "Jeffers was not injured."

Neighbor Scarlett Lanier said she was up with her 3-year-old son when she saw the light through the window of her apartment and looked out to see the fire. Lanier said she ran over with blankets and swaddled the lifeless child after Jeffers brought him out. She said she started CPR while Jeffers tried to go back for Howard and Wadley.

"I thought I felt a pulse, so I had to try," she said. "I just can’t get him out of my mind. It will stay with me forever."

Carmen Barfield, a friend staying with Lanier and a licensed practical nurse, said she helped Lanier try to revive the child.

"We worked on him for about seven minutes until EMS came and took over," Barfield said. "They kept working on him another 10 to 15 minutes."

When Pembroke Fire Department arrived the kitchen was fully engulfed in flames and the baby had been pulled out, according to Fire Chief Jimmy Cook.

Fire fighters entered the apartment, and were pulling Howard and Wadley out of the back bedroom when the ceiling and roof began to collapse, Cook said.

"With a fire like that, they were all probably gone from the smoke and heat before anyone arrived," Cook said, "When the roof started to fall in, our guys had to come out so we could get the fire out."

The attached duplex unit was protected by a firewall and suffered no damage, Cook said.

The fire is still under investigation, but may have been started by something left on the right front burner of the stove, according to Glen Allen of the Georgia Fire Marshall’s office, Monday.

Allen said there were smoke detectors in the home, but he didn't know if they were working.

Howard leaves behind a 7-year-old daughter who was staying with her father that night, according to Howard’s aunt Jeanette Byrd.

"If she wasn’t with her father, she’d be gone too," Byrd said.


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