Action News 5 Special Report: After the Orange Mound Fire - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Lori Brown

Action News 5 Special Report: After the Orange Mound Fire

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - It's a story of unimaginable loss: Seven members of one family, killed in a house fire some say could have been prevented.

Investigators may never know what started the fire in the Orange Mound home of Darius and D'Andre Poole.  The two live with their uncle now, exhibiting a strength as real as the situation they are facing.

"I couldn't see anything," Darius, 17, said in a recent interview, as he recalled the day of the fire.  "It was so dark."

"Smoke," 11-year-old D'Andre added.  "I just saw a lot of smoke."

The pair managed to escape their burning house - together - on that early Saturday morning in August.  Their mother, four siblings, and two cousins died in the flames.

"I heard my brother screaming," Darius said.  "I see flames and stuff coming from the lower part under the stairs.  Couldn't get out that way.  So I closed the door and tried the other door.  There was so much smoke I couldn't see down there.  So I had to get out the window."

Through the smoke, D'Andre found Darius at the window.

"I heard some window crash and I ran over there.  And there was my brother, " D'Andre said.  "He said, 'Just go.'  And I had jumped out."

Darius - burned by the flames - jumped next.  Meanwhile, Darius' older brother, Deon, helped his pregnant girlfriend, Rochell Russel, escape through an upstairs bathroom window.

Deon did not survive.

"I wish he'd gotten out, but I'm glad he did what he did, because he was real brave and trying to save somebody's life," Darius said.

Without knowing if the rest of their family made it out, Darius and D'Andre were rushed to the hospital.  Three days after the fire, D'Andre's sister told him what happened.

Less than a week later, Darius faced his family's seven caskets.  With his burns covered with bandages, Darius embraced his mother's casket.

Darius is confident he will see his mother and the rest of his family again.

"All of them believed in God, and they were saved," he said. "And I believe in God, and I'm saved."

In late October, doctors allowed Darius to return to the football field at Melrose High.  He doesn't question God about what happened, and neither does his brother.

"He has his reasons," D'Andre said.

Reasons - they may never by able to understand - but Darius and D'Andre have the support of their community, and their faith.

"I'm going to church every Sunday, and learning more stuff than I was at first," Darius said. "I'm getting closer to God."

"It's going to be okay," D'Andre added.

The Poole family filed a $90 million lawsuit against the city of Memphis, saying the rental home that caught fire should never have passed inspection.

As for the girlfriend who escaped from the fire - she had her baby Monday, and named him Deon after his father.

The children's uncle, Calvin Crawford, said he is extremely grateful to everyone who had a hand in blessing his family after the fire.

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