3-year-old girl dies in Macon house fire

jkovac@macon.comFebruary 28, 2014 

The burned house was gutted, still smoking, and a little girl was dead.

As evening fell Friday, about half an hour after the fatal blaze began on Mimosa Drive, a man identified by neighbors as the dead child’s father was on his knees in the middle of the street.

The fire was out, but the hurt was just beginning.

“I’ll give my soul for my baby!” the father cried. “Give me my baby! ... Just bring me my baby! I want to see my baby one last time.”

About 4:30 p.m., Gary Burrell Sr. and his son heard screams coming from their next-door neighbor’s yard.

They raced over to 1290 Mimosa, a boxy, gray, 1000-square-foot house built in 1952.

Two or three people had smashed open a bedroom window and crawled out, Burrell said.

Heat from the fire looked like it’d melted a shrub. The boughs of a pine tree were scorched 40 feet up.

A woman who’d escaped the flames screamed that there was still someone in the house, a child.

“But it was nothing but smoke and fire,” Burrell, 61, said. “Flames and smoke.”

Burrell, who’d helped lift a little boy out the window to safety, said his son kicked in the front door.

But Gary Burrell Jr., 26, said searing heat whooshed out and he couldn’t go in.

“It hurts my heart,” he said. “I did what I could.”

At dark, firefighters were still trying to figure out what caused the blaze.

Mimosa Drive, a few blocks south of Napier Avenue between Edna Place Road and Burton Avenue, was blocked as investigators sifted for clues.

“They said it went up real fast,” Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said.

An hour after the flames were doused, Jones said it was still so hot inside that investigators’ cameras were malfunctioning.

He said the dead girl’s name was A’von Blake Martin.

She turned 3 in January.

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