Cause of house fire still unknown

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 26, 2010

NATCHEZ — The cause of the Wednesday fire that claimed the lives of two young boys is still unknown.

Donna Cromeans, public relations director for the Mississippi Insurance Department, of which the Mississippi State Fire Marshal’s Office is a part, said the investigation into the blaze is still ongoing and no information can be released until the investigation is complete.

Jaylan Graves, 3, and Landon Graves, 2, died in the fire on East Oak Street. Their mother, Danielle Graves, was burned badly in the fire.

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She was airlifted from Natchez Regional Medical Center to Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga., Wednesday morning.

Natchez Police Department Lt. Craig Godbold said Danielle Graves was in critical but stable condition at the hospital.

“We talked to the medical personnel there, and she is stable, critical but stable, at this time,” he said.

The house’s primary resident Makita Smith and Graves’ brother, Justin Graves were also transported to Natchez hospitals from the scene.

Godbold said Smith is still hospitalized, but Justin Graves was treated and released Wednesday.

The fire started shortly before 9 a.m., with the first 911 call being received at 8:54 a.m. Two Natchez Fire Department engines and one ladder truck responded to the fire.

Danielle Graves’ stepsister Connie Murphy said Danielle Graves received the majority of her injuries when she attempted to re-enter the burning house to rescue her two youngest children.

She has an older daughter who was at school when the fire started.

A total of eight people are believed to have lived in the house at the time of the fire. Seven people were in the house when the fire started in a back bedroom.

Smith’s two twin sons were able to escape the fire unharmed.

In March 2008, a fire destroyed Smith’s apartment at Susie B. West Apartments. An investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office “determined it to be incendiary,” Cromeans said in an e-mail. Incendiary is defined as a deliberate burning of property.