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Students Killed in Fire, Grandma Narrowly Escapes
Fire investigators still don't know what caused a house on North Ninth Street to catch fire. Investigators said if there were any working smoke detectors inside the house, they would've burned up long before their crews arrived.
"I can't say that the fire alarms weren't working in this house, but I just want everybody to check their fire alarms and just hug your kids because my nephews--I'm never going to see them again," Tamika White, who lost her nephews and father in the fire, said.
Brothers Deonte and Donald Lewis were 14 and 16 years old. The athletic and smart students will never walk the halls of Lanphier High School again. The people they leave behind are heartbroken, grief-stricken.
"They both loved basketball so much," Tamika White said of her nephews. "They wrestled. They were on the football team. Deonte, he was a ninth grader and they were just little boys, just little boys."
At around 11:45 p.m. Thursday, the Springfield Fire Department was called to the home. It took crews less than five minutes to arrive.
"The truck driver, who's not even from the state, that happened to be driving by spotted the fire, put himself at risk to try to save these people," Springfield Fire Marshall Rick Weber said.
It was too late for the boys, for their grandfather, 63-year-old Victor Hudson, and for their 55-year-old visiting cousin, Douglas Oaddams. A relative recalls what may have been 16-year-old Donald's last words.
"He told her, 'Grandma, I don't want to go out like this'. And smoke was just overwhelming, and they couldn't get him up," Ralph Lewis, who is the brother of the only survivor, said. "He passed out."
From the roof of the back porch, firefighters rescued the boys' 59-year-old grandmother in a daring escape. The lives of four men she loves so dearly are now being mourned.