March 28, 2007
HARLEM, Ga.---A family of nine, including six children, is looking for a place to stay after a fire swept through their home. It happened overnight in Harlem on Old Union Road.
Now investigators are looking at how it happened.
This is the second mobile home fire in this area this week...but unlike the last one, this family made it out before it was too late.
Flames have burned, bowed, and blackened the mobile home, but they did not tear this family apart.
"It's bad that we lost it, but I thank god I still got the kids," said Malissa Whitaker.
Malissa, her husband, mother, and six children--nine people in all--were inside when the blaze broke out just after midnight.
Firefighters were able to extinguish it after 15 minutes.
Investigators say the fire started on the back porch, making its way through the home, and collapsing the roof.
"We just all started getting out," Malissa said. "We had a minute or two to get out."
In the heat of the night, Malissa was counting heads. She realized everyone made it out but two-year-old Dixie, who was asleep under the covers. Fighting flames, they rushed to save her.
"So by then, the smoke was almost unbearable," Malissa said.
Dixie is okay, and so are newborn Hannah and the other four kids.
Right now the family says the toughest part is starting over. Neighbors are helping.
"We're going to get her some clothes for the kids and get things to give her for the baby and everything," said neighbor Catherine Hendrix.
While their material possessions are gone, the family credits a working smoke detector for saving what can't be replaced.
Investigators have not released a cause on this fire. They say it started on the back porch and are looking into the possibility of it starting because of faulty wiring or a cigarette.