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UPDATE: Space heater ignited fire that killed Macon child

Awaking to the sound of smoke detector alarms and a 10-year-old screaming “fire,” a Pringle Street family discovered their house was on fire early this morning, according to a Macon police report.

Clothes near an electric space heater started an early morning house fire that killed 2-year-old Amir Scott in Macon’s Fort Hill neighborhood at about 4 a.m.

When Macon-Bibb County firefighters arrived at the burning home, located at 611 Pringle St., flames were coming from Amir’s bedroom in the front of the house on the corner of Womack Street, said District Chief J.R. Malcom.

Amir’s parents, Shirley Scott and Duran Johnson, were safely outside with their other children — 10-year-old Akia Scott, 6-year-old Ahric Johnson and 5-year-old Aniyah Scott — when fire trucks pulled up.

Malcom said the adults were about to go back in the house for Amir and 1-year-old Imene Johnson when his men took over.

Firefighters used a thermal imaging camera to locate the 2-year-old who was already dead inside the front room where the fire started. He was pronounced dead at about 4:15 a.m., said Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones.

When firefighters entered the house they heard a baby crying and found Imene suffering from smoke inhalation. The infant girl also suffered burns to her arms, according to the police report. She is listed in critical condition at The Medical Center of Central Georgia’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Jones said.

The other children also are being treated for smoke inhalation, but were doing well later this morning, Jones said. The parents were not hurt, he said.

The crime scene unit of the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office gathered evidence at the scene after the fire was out and the house had cooled.

Lt. Brooks Peterson said the family did not have much furniture and clothes were scattered throughout the bedrooms. Amir’s bedroom door was closed and the room sustained heavy fire damage before flames tore through the door allowing smoke to reach the detector.

Macon-Bibb County fire investigator Capt. Tom Musselwhite said the fire was traced to the space heater in Amir’s room.

“It appears that clothing left on the floor in front of the heater started the fire,” Musselwhite said.

Macon-Bibb Fire Chief Marvin Riggins urged everyone to have working smoke detectors placed near bedrooms and where space heaters are used.

A neighbor who lives on the corner of Cowan and Womack streets, about a block away from the fire, said his brother woke him up at 4:30 a.m. to tell him about the blaze.

Eugene Flowers said he didn’t know the family who lived in the house that burned, but he’d seen them.

James Brown, of Womack Street, said he’s seen the adult man and woman who lived in the house while he walked through the neighborhood.

“They seemed like they were (a nice family),” he said.

A collection is being planned at Burdell/Hunt Elementary School for items the family may need, including children’s clothing, said Chris Floore, Bibb County schools spokesman. Two of the family’s children are enrolled at Burdell/Hunt, located in the Fort Hill neighborhood. For more information on items the family may need, call the school at 779-2950.

The American Red Cross also is providing assistance to the family.

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