5 dead, including 3 juveniles, in house fire

Patricia Baker (Source: Family)
Patricia Baker (Source: Family)
Patrice Graham (Source: Family)
Patrice Graham (Source: Family)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Two adults and three juveniles died in a house fire Thursday morning.

The fire broke out after 3 a.m. on Inman Cove, not far from Semmes Street and Barron Avenue.

Lyketa Graham, just 23-years-old, lost her grandmother Patrica, mother Patrice and 4-year-old son Travis in the fire.  She and her older sister, Pyketa, who's only 25, are now the matriarchs of their shattered family.

"I loved my baby, and he loved me," she said standing outside the burned up house.  "My mama and my grandma was all I had."

Baker's two grandsons,12-year-old Christyon Johnson and 13-year-old Charles Johnson, were in critical condition at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.The family confirmed that both passed away Saturday.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but the heartbreak of the loss was felt by all.

A firefighter coping with the tragedy comforted a grieving woman who came to the Orange Mound home after learning of the fire.

"This is a family," MFD Lieutenant Wayne Cooke said. "This is a family. What affects the community affects us, and when you see this type of devastation it brings us closer together, united, and we will gather to pray."

The loss is too raw and recent for family and friends, who only spoke with off-camera.

"This is devastating," Lt. Cooke said. "Anytime that we have any victims. It's devastating to us as well as to the family and the neighbors."

Lt. Cooke said so far in 2018, five people have died in Memphis fires.  That's how many died in all of 2017.  In 2016, 22 people were killed in fires.  One death is too many, said Cooke.

Graham's daughters said all five were asleep when the fire started around 3:30 Thursday morning. One of the teens inside the home woke up and called 911.

Burglar bars were attached to all windows in the home, but it's unclear to fire investigators if they prevented the family from escaping.

But Lt. Cooke said, "We do not recommend using stationary bars on the windows.  Replace with quick release bars.  They're safer."

He also said you need an emergency exit plan.  Discuss it with your family, especially the oldest and youngest members who are the most vulnerable in a fire.  And practice the plan, he said, by holding monthly drills, at night with the lights turned off.

Travis Murrell's mother, Graham, said she was at work on a break when text messages flooded her phone about the fire.

"I want my baby back," she said, sobbing, "I just want my baby back."

The last time she saw her son was late Wednesday night, when she dropped Travis off at her grandma's house before she headed to her third shift job in Olive Branch.

"I hugged him and told him I loved him" Lyketa said, "and he told me goodnight in that sleepy little voice of his that I love so much."

When asked what advice their grandmother would give them right now, both sisters replied:  "pray."

At this time, no working smoke alarms were found inside the home.

The Memphis Fire Department has not yet released a cause of the deadly fire.  You can contact the fire department to get a free smoke detector by calling 901-636-5650.

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