Two sisters died in house fire in Stone County

Published 7:54 pm Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Two young sisters who were spending the night at their grandfather’s mobile home in the Bond community died this past weekend when fire raced through the structure, authorities said.

The victims were identified as Courtney Lynn Womack, 8, and Ashley Elizabeth Womack, 6, the children of Edward and Angelica Womack.

Doug Byrd, the grandfather, said the girls were watching television when one noticed smoke. He said he ran outside to grab a water hose but the fire spread so quickly the girls were trapped inside and could not be rescued despite the frantic efforts of Byrd and his neighbors.

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The girls, who lived next door to their grandfather, were honor roll students at Stone County Elementary. Courtney was a second-grader and Ashley, a kindergartner.

“They were just two sweet little girls,” said James Morrison, superintendent of Stone County schools.

School officials said they were prepared to provide crisis intervention to help students cope with their classmates’ deaths.

“It is devastating for the whole community,” Billy Mullin, a neighbor who drove up the hill on his four-wheeler and tried to help save the children, told The Sun Herald newspaper. “We did all we knew to do, but apparently it wasn’t enough.”

Sheriff Mike Farmer said the fire is believed to be accidental, but his fire investigator and a state fire marshal are investigating the cause. The Fire Marshal’s Office routinely investigates fires involving a death.