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Family tried to save deaf man from fatal Smithfield fire

Posted January 30

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— One man died on Saturday morning in a house fire in Smithfield, officials said.

The fire at the home on 5th Street near the Smithfield Police Department was reported at 5 a.m., according to the Smithfield Fire Department. Fire Chief John Blanton said crews received a call for a fire with someone trapped inside the home and arrived on scene at 5:05 a.m.

Search and rescue crews found one victim dead inside.

Mamie Stewart lived in the home that caught fire. Stewart said her nephew Michael Caroll Davis, 43, who was deaf, died in the fire.

“He made me feel good all the time,” said Stewart of her nephew. “He loved to make sure I had my coffee in the morning when I got up.”

Stewart said she was up very early Saturday morning, reading her Bible, while Davis was asleep upstairs. Her grandson came home and said he smelled something burning, so Stewart said she walked toward the kitchen.

“I heard something and there was nothing but smoke and stuff. It just engulfed the house,” she said.

Stewart said she and others tried to go back upstairs to get Davis, but couldn't reach him.

“I’m running upstairs, trying to get upstairs and the smoke engulfed me. I couldn’t see nothing and I know he couldn’t hear me,” she said. “We couldn’t save him.”

Davis had lived with his aunt since his mother died when he was ten-years-old.

“He wasn’t my child, but I raised him as mine and I loved him just as much as my own child that I gave birth to,” said Stewart."I just thank God for all the good things that I remember him by."

The other seven people in the home, who were all relatives of Stewart, were able to escape. The smoke detector in the home wasn't working, she said.

The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Johnston County Fire Marshal.

Early morning, Saturday January 30, 2016. S. Fifth St. Smithfield, NC. Right beside police station. Directly behind fire station

Posted by Kenneth C. Reid on Saturday, January 30, 2016
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  • Mike Chapman Jan 31, 2016
    user avatar

    Hopefully there was a deaf-accessible smoke alarm installed. (has either a strobe light or vibration unit or both.) If not, it is a true tragedy that could have been prevented with simple technology. Prayers are with the family.

  • Janet Ghumri Jan 30, 2016
    user avatar

    Wow, how horrible for the family. I'm glad the rest made it out, but poor guy. If she's had him with her since he was 10 years old, he is like her son. Especially with a disability. Prayers for the family