Local News

Laurinburg Authorities: Home Didn't Have Working Smoke Detectors

Posted September 24, 2007

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— Investigators said Monday there were no working smoke detectors in a home where a fire killed four children late Sunday night.

Three boys – Rasheem Williams, 11; Devon Williams, 9, and Brian Williams, 3 – and Jadeda Williams, 11, died inside their home at 8800 Johns Mill Road, near U.S. Route 501, in Laurinburg.

Authorities said the children were home alone and were likely asleep when the fire started in the kitchen. Firefighters found three of them in the bedroom and the oldest boy by the door, as if he were trying to get out.

"Knowing what was inside the house there and what had happened, it was devastating," Scotland County Sheriff Shep Jones said. "It was a very emotional time for everyone."

Jones said the children's mother, Lauvina Williams, was across town at a friend's house when the fire started. He has met with the local district attorney to determine whether charges should be filed.

She was taken to Scotland Memorial Hospital because she was overcome with grief, authorities said. Her condition was unknown Monday, however.

Grief counselors were on hand Monday at the children's schools, and the American Red Cross was also providing counseling for neighbors.

"We busted the window open," said Caleb Locklear, who, with his stepfather, tried to get inside the home to save the children. "We were hollering, 'Hey, is anybody in here?' It was so hot, you couldn't get hardly near the window. Nobody ever acknowledged us."

The bodies of the children were taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Chapel Hill for autopsies.