5-year-old Fayetteville boy dies after rescue from duplex fire
Posted May 22
Fayetteville, N.C. — An early-morning house fire claimed the life of a 5-year-old Fayetteville boy Thursday, sent some of his stepbrothers and stepsisters to a hospital and left family members and friends grieving their loss.
Firefighters responding to 225 Old Shaw Road around 1:15 a.m. had to enter the 1,000-square-foot duplex, which was engulfed in flames, to rescue the boy, Zion Lilly. He died from smoke inhalation at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.
Robert Edmond Jr., the father of two of the children, said he tried to save Zion but the smoke and flames became too much for him to handle.
"I can't take it now, but I (didn't) have no choice," said Edmond, who was recovering at Cape Fear Valley on Thursday afternoon. "It's done, but I didn't mean to leave him in that fire like that."
Edmond said he was taking a nap in his car when Zion's 15-year-old stepbrother, Keyshawn Deberry, -- one of the six children in the home -- woke him up and told him about the fire.
"I jumped out the car, looked and seen flames coming out a couple of windows on the side and roof," he said. "So, I just went and bust the window out and tried to find everybody I could find."
Deberry and Azianna Harris, 13, were able to get out safely, and Edmond was able to save his 2- and 3-year-old sons, Isaiah and Robert III, as well as their 9-year-old sister, Carnise Shepard.
Carnise, family members said, was recovering Thursday night from smoke inhalation at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill.
Isaiah Edmond and Robert Edmond III were treated at Cape Fear Valley and later released.
Family friend Valerie Lindsey, who also lives in the duplex, said she sees the children and their mother, Latonya Deberry, every day.
"My son and her son are best friends. My daughter and her daughter are best friends. Me and her are good friends, and we are there for one another always," Lindsey said. "This hurt me so bad, because I see them every day."
Rasheed Phillips, who lives nearby, said he called 911 before trying to help Edmond.
"We was breaking the window. We thought (Zion) was in the back, but he was right (in the living room)," Phillips said. "That's where the firefighters found him."
Authorities are still investigating the fire but think it might have started near a stove.
The wood-framed duplex did not have smoke detectors, fire officials said, but the duplex's owner, Gail Martin, said two were installed last year when the kitchen was remodeled.
Investigators are still working to find out how the fire started.