Officials identify likely cause to fatal fire

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - By Melanie Posey

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham fire officials say that an unattended stove likely caused a massive fire where three people died early Sunday morning.  About 10 units were destroyed at the Beaconview Apartments.

Claudia Dukes, 25, was killed in the fire with her 8-year old son, Jordan Dukes and her 3-year old daughter, Jakayla Gamble.  Several residents were injured as they jumped from their balconies to safety.

Jake Herron jumped as well. He remembers awakening to screams and running to see the happenings. "I opened my door and the whole breezeway collapsed," he recalled.

He then ran back inside where his sister and roommate were and made the best decision he could for them all.  "We had to jump off the balcony. Life or death...I had a chance to get out so we did," he said.

Felisha Walter remembered hearing the screams as well.  For her health, she maintains oxygen tanks in her apartment. So when she was instantly met by fire as she ran to her door, she had more than extra concerns.  "And I got scared and then was like, 'Oh my God,' because I knew I got oxygen (tanks) everywhere in my house," she said.

She and her children ran to her daughter's room and were about to jump out.

At the same time, Cedric Snipe was across the street hearing the screams and yells for help.

"And just at that moment, a drift of adrenaline came over me and I had to do what I thought anybody else would do," Snipe said.

He helped the women out, but he realized their husband and father were still inside.  The man was a stroke victim who couldn't help him much.  "As soon as I got the guy to the hallway, the whole front door went up in flames," Snipe remembered.  "I could feel the heat.  I had to keep moving."  He was able to get the man to safety.

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