LITHIA SPRINGS, Ga. - A family is mourning the loss of two of their own after a late night blaze Monday tore through a Lithia Springs home. The fire claimed the life of a little boy and his cousin.
It broke out around 9:30 p.m. in the 500 block of Boulder Park Drive. Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke coming from the home. Officials said two people were removed from the home, and taken to an area hospital where they passed away.
Ruby Earl said she lost two beautiful grandchildren in the blaze. She broke down Tuesday as her daughter, Inga, shared their fondest memories of Stacia Williams, 28, and Jermaude “Trey” Earl, who was just 10 years old.
"You would hear him coming down the road bouncing that basketball. He was handicapped from being a preemie, but you would not know it," said Inga Earl, as her mother Mary wept by her side. "He went beyond is handicaps I loved basketball. He loved life. He was just a sweet baby."
Inga said her elderly mother hustled to get out as smoke quickly filled the home. She said Trey's 12-year-old brother, Mehki, grabbed Trey's arm to lead him out of the burning home.
"Mehki had told him we're going to make a run for this. We are going to go make a run for this, but Tre broke away from his brother. Mehki got out safely but Trey went upstairs and hid on the side of his bed and that's where they found him," Earl said standing in front of her mother's burned home.
By the time firefighters got Williams out of the house through a second story window, the smoke had already taken its toll. Williams left behind three children.
"She was very popular on social media. She's known as Starr Bright. just a big heart. She just had a birthday on the 3rd of May," added the victims' aunt.
Neighbor Willie Mason told FOX 5 News he heard a loud noise late Monday night, and when he went outside he saw that his neighbor's house was on fire. He said they did what they could after the grandmother ran from door to door screaming for help. She told Mason two of her family members, Earl and Williams, were trapped inside.
"I kicked in the back door and put my shirt over my nose and started crawling. As I was crawling, the started again real, real bad and it got hot and smoky. I had to stand up go back outside," Mason said. "Thanks brother. Because we really did try to save them."
Mason and another neighbor tried to get in the grandmother's home through the front door, but couldn't. Then, they were able to kick in the back door, crawled around to try and get to the victims inside, but were quickly overcome by flames and heat.
Mason said he tried to get in the home a second time but was turned away. He told FOX 5 News that he is heartbroken about not being able to save his neighbors.
Shai Walker told FOX 5's Marc Teichner that his younger brother died in the fire. He said Jermaude loved basketball and wanted to go into the NBA to take care of their grandmother.
Neighbors who picked up their children from the bus stop where Trey would have normally dropped off the bus said grief counselors were on hand at Lithia Springs Elementary School Tuesday. Trey was a third grader at the Douglas County school.
Two firefighters suffered minor injuries battling the blaze. They were also taken to the hospital.
Douglas County firefighters have not determined cause of the fire.