House fire kills two children - - Jackson, MS

House fire kills two children

By Kandiss Crone - bio | email

SMITH COUNTY, MS (WLBT) - Two siblings have died in a house fire. It happened early Thursday morning on SCR 540-2 in Smith County.

The lives of nine-year-old William "Clyde" Saulters and his seven-year-old sister Renee ("NeNe") were cut drastically short.

Katelyn Daniels fights back tears as she shares what she will miss most about her two best friends.

"We used to play on the dirt pile and we used to play school with my sister. She was the teacher," said Daniels.

Relatives say the siblings live in Richland, but had been staying with their great grandmother, Johnnie Faye Marthaler, when the fire broke out.

Relatives say Marthaler managed to escape and was taken to the University Medical Center in Jackson for burns to her feet and smoke inhalation.

"They loved coming down, being with her," said Jeff Daniels, who lives nearby. "She loved having them. It'd give her something to do, somebody to play with, be with her. She adored them."

Daniels says he and his uncle tried to rescue the children, but the intense heat from the fire made it extremely difficult.

"The door was locked on the back, had a padlock on the back and I couldn't get in. Finally I just found a shovel and beat the lock off the door and opened it up and was able to get the boy but he was done," Jeff Daniels said.

"I started back in there but the smoke and fire was so bad I had to go back, but the little girl she was just in arm reach of him," Robert Bowen said.

The fire marshall and sheriff were not available for interviews, but the victims' family says the fire was sparked by an overloaded air conditioning unit.

Officials have not released the exact cause of death, but relatives say the children died of smoke inhalation.

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