Lamonta Stroud, 18, a student at Rockdale County High School, said he and his brother heard screaming from a neighbor's house on Pinedale Circle on Tuesday night and ran outside to find the house on fire. Stroud told reporters that he ran across the street and tried to get the children in the house to jump out of a window, but they were too afraid to follow his instructions. Stroud said he wanted to go up the stairs inside the burning house but the flames were too hot. Four children died in the fire. -- Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
CONYERS -- A house fire claimed the lives of four children in Conyers Tuesday night. Three residents of the home survived, including the children's mother, grandmother and 6-year-old brother.
Mother Reba Glass was reportedly able to drop 6-year-old son Darnell Glass Jr. from a second story window to safety and then jump out herself. Glass, who suffered burns to 40 percent of her body, was unable to reach her other four children who were apparently upstairs, Ah'Dariya Glass, 9, DeShawn Glass, 7, Amoni Glass, 3, and 8-month-old Deon Glass Jr.
Glass's mother, who was downstairs in the duplex, was able to get out the front door to safety.
Rockdale Fire and Rescue Chief Dan Morgan said Darnell Glass was taken to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. Reba Glass was taken to Grady Hospital in Atlanta. Though unharmed by the fire, the children's grandmother was treated at the scene by National EMS for chest pains.
Morgan said fire broke out in the duplex at 1149 Pinedale Circle around 11 p.m. According to a release from Rockdale County, when firefighters arrived, two adult women and one child were standing outside the home. Inside, firefighters encountered fire on the second floor and began working to put out the fire and rescue the other four children.
The four victims were removed during the rescue operation, according to the county, and later pronounced dead at the scene.
While the exact cause of the fire has not yet been determined, Morgan said it appeared that the fire started in the area of the upstairs bathroom and hallway.
Neighbor Lamonta Stroud, 18, said he heard screams coming from outside and ran to the duplex, smashing windows and pleading with the children to come to a bathroom and escape.
"I just started hitting windows, breaking windows, breaking windows, screaming 'come to the bathroom, come to the bathroom, I can get you all out, come to the bathroom, I can get you all out,'" Stroud recalled. "All I heard was stuff cracking and falling and just fire -- so much was going on."
He said a little girl was at a window, but would not jump, possibly because she was scared.
"There really wasn't that much I could do," Stroud recalled. "I tried."
He added that he knew the family well, and one of the girls who died was his sister's best friend.
"All the kids out here are like a family," he said. "And it hurts us all when we see something like this happen... It's like my little brothers and sisters are gone now."
Those who want to make contributions to the family should contact Pastor Billie Cox of Macedonia Baptist Church at 770-262-4076. Cox said Wednesday that women's clothing in sizes 20 and 22, shoes in sizes 7.5 and 8, and boy's clothing size 6 and shoes size 11 are needed.
"They will need everything for the household -- everything," said Cox, who said that the grandmother is temporarily staying with her sister in Conyers.
A bank account for contributions to the family has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank branches. The account number is 1009683226.
A representative from Levett and Sons Funeral Home and Crematory of Conyers has offered to handle the funeral arrangements for the family at no cost, according to the county.
"This is a very unfortunate situation," said Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden. "So we will wrap our arms around this family to ensure comfort during this time of tremendous loss."
Morgan said investigators with the State Fire Marshal's Office and Rockdale Fire and Rescue were on the scene all day Wednesday working to determine the cause of the fire. He said it was too early to tell if there were working smoke detectors in the home. The county also received assistance from the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency.
The majority of damage from the fire was confined to the duplex, although there was some damage to the adjoining unit, which is vacant. Morgan said the two units share an attic crawl space, so firefighters had to breach the common wall between the two units to make sure the fire hadn't spread.
There were no injuries to firefighters or officers with the Conyers Police Department, who also responded to the scene, Morgan said. Rockdale Fire and Rescue had seven units at the fire -- four engines, one ladder truck, one rescue unit and one battalion chief unit.
There were no sprinklers in the duplex, Morgan said. At the time it was constructed, in 1983, they were not required. He said sprinklers are now required in certain portions of multi-family housing, and newer duplexes just down the street do have sprinklers.
Morgan said the property was turned over to the owner, Lajag Enterprises LLC of Stone Mountain, Wednesday afternoon.
In an effort to prevent future fires, Rockdale County Fire and Rescue plans to go out to the neighborhood next week to pass out pamphlets to neighbors about the importance of smoke detectors and other fire safety tips as part of an education/prevention community service.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.