05/08/07 — Two killed in northern Wayne fire

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Two killed in northern Wayne fire

By Lee Williams
Published in News on May 8, 2007 1:57 PM

An elderly woman and her granddaughter died from injuries they received in a fire that broke out in the Nahunta community about 1 p.m. Monday on Memorial Church Road.

Mayola Waddell, 77, and her granddaughter, Shannon Minshew, 36, were inside of their home at 1884 Memorial Church Road when the fire broke out inside of the laundry room.

The clothes dryer caught on fire and Ms. Minshew placed a call to 911 to report the blaze.

Firefighters from the Nahunta, Little River, Polly Watson, Fremont and Pikeville Volunteer Fire Departments arrived and found the large wood frame home engulfed in flames.

Firefighters rushed in quickly to save the victims, Nahunta Volunteer Fire Chief Jay Howell said.

"When we arrived on the scene we had heavy fire conditions and of course the wind didn't help us," Howell said.

"Firefighters entered the structure to bring two people out," Howell said. "There was one fatality and one injured. The injured was taken to Wayne Memorial Hospital."

Ms. Minshew, who lived in the home to care for her grandmother, died instantly, officials said.

Ms. Waddell, who sustained heavy burns, died later at Wayne Memorial Hospital, officials said today.

As firefighters continued to douse the charred home and towering tree s that encircled the home with water, family members including Ms. Waddell's daughter, Javita Chase, and Ms. Minshew's teenage son, Tyler, sobbed gently and clung to each other for support.

Family members hailed Ms. Minshew as hero. They credited her for trying to save her grandmother from the fire before she died.

The fire caused about $100,000 in damage and the home was declared a total loss, Wayne County Sheriff's Capt. Tom Effler said.

Once the flames were completely out, Wayne County sheriff's detectives and an SBI fire investigator worked to search for a cause. However, an exact cause of the fire remains unclear, Effler said.

"We suspect an appliance caught fire, but it has not been confirmed," he said.