Investigators find deadly Barrow fire result of electrical failure

3:00 PM, Sep 20, 2013   |    comments
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  • 18-month-old Kharma Sauls
  • (Photo: John Gerard, 11Alive News)
  • (Photo: John Gerard, 11Alive News)
  • (Photo: John Gerard, 11Alive News)

WINDER, Ga. -- Investigators of Barrow County Emergency Services found the cause of the fire that killed a baby and hurt three others Wednesday morning.

Lt. Scott Dakin said the fire completely destroyed a home, and took the life of 18-month-old Kharma Sauls. 

The flames, Chief Investigator Lieutenant Blair Darst said started in the home's sun room, and began with an electrical failure. He said the layout of the home was very open, allowing the blaze to spread quickly through the dining room and other parts of the house.

Early Wednesday morning, authorities said witnesses called 911 and reported family members were jumping from the windows of the second story of the home to escape the fire.

Those witnesses saw at least one of those family members trying to get back into the house in an attempt to save the child.

Three people escaped the home and were taken to Grady Hospital in critical condition. Friends and neighbors identified them as 50-year-old Russ Sauls, Kharma's grandfather, Briana Sauls, the child's mother, and 16-year-old Wynn Sauls, the baby's aunt.

Neighbors Mike and Carol Chambers said Brianna Sauls and her sister Wynn came rushing to their home, pleading for someone to call for help. The Chambers said both women were burned.

"She said she tried to go in and get the baby," said Carol Chambers, speaking of Kharma's mother. "She said there was too much fire, too much smoke."

Barrow County Firefighters said all three victims were treated for burns and smoke inhalation on Wednesday. 

11Alive's John Gerard spoke with Dakin on scene. Dakin said the 911 calls came in around 2:15 a.m.

The home was located at Rockwell Church Road and Moons Bridge Road. 

Along with the baby and the three injured victims, a fifth person was found. That person, who was visiting the home at the time of the fire, was treated and released from the hospital.

"It's well off the roadway, and for that reason we have also requested and gotten assistance from Jackson County Fire Department," Dakin said. "They have sent a tanker to help us shuttle water up to the scene so that we can fight the fire." 

Friends said Russ Sauls was supposed to celebrate his 50th birthday at the home the next weekend.

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