TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The Starrville area house fire that claimed four lives yesterday remains under investigation, however authorities have released the name of one of the victims, Brittany Stewart.
“It is with great sadness that I must report that four people perished in the house fire,” Smith County Fire Marshal Jay Brooks said at a Tuesday morning press conference. “A woman and three children were unable to make it out.”
Stewart, 24, died in the house fire which began at about 11:30 a.m. Monday in the 18400 block of Devonne Drive, off US Highway 271. The three children, ages five, two and one, remain unnamed as next of kin have not been fully notified. Edwin Harris, 31, identified as the father of one of the children was taken to UT Health East Texas in Tyler and treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Brooks said a White Oak volunteer firefighter, who was in the area, stopped to help Harris as he attempted to put out the fire and rescue the house’s remaining occupants. A unit from UT Health EMS also arrived and assisted, followed shortly by deputies of the Precinct 4 Constable’s Office. The fire grew rapidly and hindered rescue efforts.
The cause of the fire remains under full investigation, and while Brooks declined to speculate as to the possible cause or origin of the fire, he noted that the electricity to the home was out and that a wood burning stove was in use in the home at some point before the fire broke out. Brooks said the investigation will likely take weeks to complete.
This incident marks the fifth deadly fire in Smith County so far in 2021. As such, Brooks reiterated the necessity for residents to ensure they have fully functional smoke detectors throughout their homes.
“That is the one thing that is tried and true. Smoke detectors are known and documented to save lives. Especially during this time of year when people use space heaters, wood burning stoves and other heating devices to stay warm at night when they are asleep. We want everyone to have smoke detectors and make sure they are working to stay safe,” said Brooks.