Cause still undetermined in fire that killed 16-month-old boy - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Cause still undetermined in fire that killed 16-month-old boy

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PIEDMONT, Ala. -

Funeral services will be Saturday for the Piedmont toddler that died in a fatal fire.

Korbyn Stitts died Friday night when his grandmother's house on North Church Street caught fire.  Drusilla Stitts was able to help her three other grandsons get out of the house safely, but was unable to rescue Korbyn.

Piedmont Fire Chief Mike Ledbetter said Stitts told him the 16-month-old just recently began to walk.  Korbyn was in a bedroom when the fire began just after 8 p.m. Friday.

Ledbetter said investigators from the Piedmont Fire Department and the Alabama Fire Marshal's Office have not determined the cause of the fire.  He said there is no sign of criminal activity and they do not suspect foul play.

The house is about three blocks from the fire station, and Ledbetter said the first tanker truck arrived within one minute of getting the emergency call.

"She attempted to extinguish the fire, but was unable to," Ledbetter said.

"She was able to remove three of the grandchildren.  Tried to get to the fourth child and couldn't because of the heat and the smoke."

Firefighters tried to enter the bedroom through a window in an attempt to save Korbyn.  Several went inside, and one suffered second-degree burns.

"It's a very hard situation knowing that you had a child die in a fire," Ledbetter said.

"However, the circumstances were there that didn't allow us to make a successful rescue.  The situation was beyond our control when we arrived and unfortunately we've got the outcome that we've got."

Chief Ledbetter said this is the youngest victim of a fire in his 25 years as a firefighter.  He said the holidays make it even harder to deal with this loss.

Family friends said sadness swept the neighborhood.

"It's tragic, man, for real," Key McNeal said.

"I used to come out here and see three kids playing with their brother.  They can't do it no more.  It's around the holidays.  People are real sad.  Sad thing going on."

Javil Cunningham said he saw smoke from about a block away, and headed over to see if he knew whose house was on fire.

"It touched the whole community once they found out it was a child stuck in the house that couldn't get out," Cunningham said.

"It was real sad.  I ain't never seen an event like that.  It was a good day, and then it all changed real quick.  You just got to count your blessings every day."

The funeral will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at Thankful Baptist Church in Piedmont.

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