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Prichard Fire Dept.: Dryer started house fire that killed 4-year-old boy

Prichard Fire Dept.: Dryer started house fire that killed 4-year-old boy (img: WPMI)
Prichard Fire Dept.: Dryer started house fire that killed 4-year-old boy (img: WPMI)

Prichard's Interim Fire Chief says a dryer started the fire that killed a 4-year-old boy Tuesday afternoon.

Family members say the mother and the 2-year-old boy she was able to save are home from the hospital

Stuffed animals and blue balloons tied to the mailbox, all small signs of support from the community. A community in mourning after 4-year-old Jean Paul Leonard died when his home caught fire.

"My heart just goes out for the family," Kimberly Hartley said.

"It's just a little bitty baby," Ashley Wheat said. "He hadn't even started his life yet."

Gloria Patton says she would often see the boys playing in the yard and they would always wave at her.

"Two little Boys, two little rambunctious cute boys," she said.

Prichard's Interim Fire Chief David Hale says his firefighters did everything they could, arriving three minutes after they got the call.

"Our engines that were on scene yesterday both engines had a 1000 gallons of water per truck," Hale said.

He says there were no issues with the hydrant or operations.

However, he says the flames were too intense for firefighters to just run in.

"The rear of the house was blowing fire out the left and right side and through the roof," he said. "We had to do a defense attack before we could actually go in and do a search and rescue."

Once they were able to get inside, he says they found Jean Paul in a back bedroom right next to the room where the dryer was.

Those in the community say now is the time to show the family how much they are loved.

"My heart just grieves for the family," Patton said. "I just hope they have peace. It's so difficult to lose a baby."

Hale says fire investigators are still working to determine what went wrong with the dryer.