Child dies after Fayetteville duplex fire, four others injured

Thursday, May 22, 2014
A child who was rescued from a burning home in Fayetteville overnight has died.

The fire started at the Old Shaw Road Duplexes in the 200 block of Old Shaw Road, off Bragg Boulevard, just after 1 a.m. Thursday morning.

When firefighters arrived, flames were seen coming out of the front of one of the units.

Authorities said crews rushed in to rescue 5-year-old Zion Lilly who was trapped inside the building.

The boy was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in serious condition, but he later died from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to his family.

Two adults -- LaTonya DeBerry, and Robert Edmonds, Sr. -- and six children were inside the home when the fire started.

Eyewitnesses said Edmonds, Sr. kept going back in the home with firefighters as frantic neighbors could only pray and plead for help.

"The flames are everywhere....it getting bigger and bigger. Oh my God."

It was a scene neighbor Brittany O'Neal says she will never forget.

"It's just hard to watch a mother sit there and know her child is in that house and she can't get in the house," O'Neal said.

One of the adults and three other children -- a 2-year-old Isaiah Edmonds, a 3-year-old Robert Edmonds, Jr., and a 9-year-old Carnise Shepard -- were also taken to the hospital for treatment. Shepard was later taken to UNC Hospitals due to possible smoke inhalation.

Thirteen-year-old A'Zianna Harris and 15-year-old KeyShawn DeBerry were not hurt.

The cause of the blaze is currently under investigation, but authorities said the fire may have started in the stove area of the kitchen.

Authorities said no smoke detectors were found inside the older wood-frame duplex. The neighboring unit also sustained heavy fire and smoke damage, but everyone inside that apartment was able to get out safely.

Zion was a student at Ashton Woods Head Start. Counselors were at the school for the other students.

The victim's cousin, Yatia Baptiste, said Zion was affectionately called Ziggy and had energy beyond belief.

"Always smiling. Always riding his bike," Baptiste said. "He is in a better place, a better place. A good, good, good little boy. Not a worry in the world."

The American Red Cross said schools and a church have stepped up with food and clothes, but anyone who can provide transportation assistance for the mother - LaTonya DeBerry - to get back and forth to UNC can call (910) 867-8151.

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