Apartment fire claims two lives, injures two firefighters

Published 3:37 pm Monday, February 16, 2015

A fire at Crossgates Apartments in Demopolis early Sunday morning claimed two lives and injured two firefighters.

A fire at Crossgates Apartments in Demopolis early Sunday morning claimed two lives and injured two firefighters.

An apartment fire at Crossgates Apartments early Sunday morning claimed two lives and injured two firefighters.

Sabrina Morris, 27, passed away in the fire, and Jeremie Sewell, 28, passed away Sunday night from injuries sustained in the fire.

The Demopolis Fire Department received the fire call at 12:46 a.m. Sunday.

Demopolis Fire Chief Tommy Tate said the engine from Station 3 had just returned to the station from a medical call when the fire call came in, and the engine from Station 1 was at a medical call when the fire call came in. Before the Demopolis fire and police departments arrived, Lane Hawkins, a bystander who was at the Pure gas station next to the apartment complex, heard the commotion and ran inside the apartment and saved a 9-year-old boy.

“There were two young males asleep in the first bedroom, and the fire started in the second bedroom,” Tate said. “One boy got out on his own, and a guy at the filling station there, Lane Hawkins, who just graduated from high school recently, heard the screams and ran in and got the other boy out. He tried to go back for the adults, but the smoke was too thick at that point. He saved that boy’s life.”

Tate said when the firefighters went in to rescue the victims, one of the firefighter’s mask was knocked off, which resulted in his injuries.

“When his mask was knocked off, he suffered some burns to his face and some smoke inhalation,” Tate said. “He went to UAB and was released Sunday after being treated. Another firefighter was burned through his gear, and he was treated and released after the fire.”

Tate said the unpredictability of house fires makes them difficult to fight.

“We don’t have many house fires, but they are some of the highest risk things because they are so unpredictable with what is going to happen,” Tate said. “They did what they had to do. I wish the outcome would have been a little bit better for the adults in there.”

In addition to the Demopolis Fire Department, the Demopolis Police Department also responded to the call. The DPD transported Sewell to Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital because the ambulances that were close-by were tied up with medical calls.

“Along with the fire department, several of our officers went in to try to get the person out of the house too, but the fire was too intense,” Demopolis Police Chief Tommie Reese said.

Reese said he is asking everyone to keep the family in their thoughts and prayers.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. The state fire marshal was called to help with the investigation.