No smoke alarms in Graydon Street apartment where child died in fire

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah Fire is investigating a fire at an apartment home on Graydon Street that killed one child and injured four others.

Savannah Fire officials say the fire broke out around 1:10 a.m. Wednesday morning in the 1100 block of Graydon Street. When fire crews arrived, they noticed heavy smoke and flames coming from the ground floor unit of a two-story apartment building.

It took firefighters about 30 minutes to get the fire out. Seven people live in the unit where the fire is believed to have originated. Two adults and four children from the ground floor unit were outside when fire crews arrived. But sadly, a fifth child never made it out and was later found deceased in the apartment by firefighters. Robin Hatton was discovered in a corner of a bedroom where officials say the fire appears to have begun.

The four injured children were transported to Memorial Medical Center, two of which were severely burned and had to be taken to the Augusta Burn Center.

The five adults and nine children who live in the upstairs apartment made it out safely.

A few of the residents who live in the second-floor apartment spoke about the moment they realized what was happening.

"We heard a loud banging noise on the door and then somebody actually came through the window and said there was a fire. Everybody just got up, tried to get all the kids out of the house. Then the smoke was coming inside so we couldn't come out the front door. We had to go out the back door," said Antonio Williams, lives on second floor. "That was my first thing. First thing - first making sure my cousin, my sister, my brother was out of the house. So it was them over me. I would rather stay and let them out first then get out."

"Just knocking over everything and making sure everyone was out. The smoke was coming in too fast. Thank God there were two exits. We got out the back door," said Melinda Brown, lives on second floor.

Firefighters were able to contain the fire to the bottom floor apartment. However, the entire building sustained heavy smoke and water damage and the power had to be cut.

A total of 20 people have been displaced. The Red Cross was called to provide both families with assistance.

Savannah Fire says the apartment home did not have any smoke alarms.

"Hold your loved ones tight because tomorrow isn't promised to any of us, let alone, a five-year-old baby. This grief is going to last a long time."

The great-grandmother of the two children who are fighting for their lives spoke with staff at the Augusta Burn Center later in the morning.

"They have them in deep comas, and they're holding their own," she said. "That's all they could tell me," said Valerie Redd. "Just graduated kindergarten, when was it, last week? She graduated from kindergarten to the first grade. Now, she won't see the first grade or anything else."

The seven family members living in the apartment had been there for at least a year. We're told they had to plan to start moving somewhere else soon.

"They were signing a lease on a new apartment this coming Friday."

Many of you have wished positive thoughts and prayers for the family, who is now expressing their appreciation.

"I thank them because I know prayers work, prayers work. Eventually, the hurt we feel right now because Robin's gone is eventually going to go away."

The parents of the children are expected to be in Augusta for at least two days.

The cause is under investigation.

We spoke with someone from the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire who says that as of July 1, 1994, every residential structure was required to have an approved operating smoke detector.

"They are required to provide that as the law states. if that is not supplied to the tenants, there could be a maximum fine of $25."

The sound may be annoying, but it could mean the difference between life and death.

The American Red Cross is always available to lend a helping hand. To prevent further tragedy, they suggest you to be prepared with an emergency response plan.

"That plan helps them make sure they are able to respond right away, and typically get out of their house in two minutes or less," said Esther Sheppard, American Red Cross.

State officials tell us there's really no excuse to not have a smoke alarm in your home.

"If that local fire department does not have one, then you can call the state fire marshal's office and we will work with departments to get you one."

Savannah Fire, Chatham EMS and Savannah Police all responded to the fire.

If you would like to help the family, you can donate to them here.


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