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Eight Children Die In House Fire

December 8, 1986

BAMBERG, S.C. (AP) _ A boy saved three children, then died with seven others as he continued trying to rescue them from a house fire that apparently was sparked by a child using gasoline to restart a wood stove, authorities say.

Three people who allegedly left the 11 children unsupervised while they went out for the night were charged Sunday with neglect.

In other weekend fires, three children died and a fourth was injured late Friday in Sadorus, Ill., and a woman and a 4-year-old girl were killed Saturday night in Rome, Ga., authorities said.

Three children, aged 4, 5, and 7 escaped the Bamberg fire and were in protective custody, said Sheriff Ed Darnell. The three apparently were saved by a fourth child who was killed as he went in to save more children, said Fire Chief Joe C. Folk. He did not know which child that was.

James McMillan Sr. was in his home a few feet away on the rutted, dirt road when the fire occurred. McMillan, who is elderly and in a wheelchair, said he thought one or two of the children who died were his grandchildren.

McMillan said some of the children were supposed to stay with him Saturday night. ″They said they were coming over here and stay with me until their Momma and Daddy got back,″ he said. ″I listened for them.″

But later, one of the boys knocked on his door, saying, ″Grandaddy, the house is on fire,″ McMillan recalled. ″He went to get someone (from the fire) and he died too.″

James W. McMillan Jr., 41, Wonder Jean Anderson, 26, and Carolyn Annette Porter, 20, all were charged with neglect by legal custodian, and were held in the Bamberg County Detention Center until a bond hearing today. All three had children die in the fire, but the relationships were not immediately clear.

The children who died were: Jerome Porter, 4; Leroy Anthony Porter, 2; Latonia and Latoya Porter, twins age 2; Kenny Porter, 3; Darryl Porter, 11; Keith Anderson, 10; and La’Shawn Anderson, 8.

The children were left alone in the home about 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. Saturday, Darnell said. ″They had brought all the children in while they went out for the evening.″

A fire in a potbellied stove had died and one of the children apparently poured gasoline in it because he was cold as the temperature dropped into the 20s, he said. According to preliminary autopsy reports, the children died of smoke inhalation and carbon-monoxide poisoning.

In Sadorus, a babysitter called the fire department late Friday to report ″some type of small explosion,″ said Champaign County sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Malloch. Neighbors also told police they heard an explosion.

The bodies of the three children who died, LeAnna Zook, 11; Tosha Zook, 14; and Amy Williams, 14 months, were found huddled near a window in a second- floor bedroom, said Malloch. The fourth child, Toby Zook, about 9, was in stable condition at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.

The children’s mother was at work at a factory when the blaze broke out, Malloch said. Their father did not live at the house.

A house fire in Rome on Saturday night left a woman and girl dead, while a blaze in Cedartown on Saturday night destroyed a vacant two-story building that once housed a rubber company, authorities said.

In Rome, authorities did not release the identities or relationship of a 48-year-old woman and a 4-year-old girl who died Saturday night, said Floyd County Coroner Fred Talley. Fire Chief Raymond Smith said he believed the pair died from smoke inhalation, rather than burns.

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