HAZLEHURST, Miss. (WJTV) – The family of 84-year-old Mattie Mae Crump McGee who died in a house fire Saturday afternoon is speaking out about the impact this mother of 14 and loving grandmother left on their lives and demanding answers on the investigation.
This upcoming Saturday would have been her 85th birthday. Now the family of Mattie Mae Crump McGee is trying to piece together what caused according to witnesses a big “explosion” engulfing their home in flames.
“After looking back at the house I realized I couldnt get in,” Flora McKay, Daughter of McGee said.
Fighting back tears she described the moment she learned her mom’s house was burning less than 90 minutes after she left it.
“When I got here they wouldn’t let me to my mom and I told them they’re not going to stop me from getting to my mom,” McKay continued. “And I had to fight them off. I fought three different guys and then one of them tackled me to the ground and wouldn’t let me up.”
Mattie McGee’s son Bubba also lived in the home, he tells us he was next door checking in on his cousin when the family nurse smelled something burning coming from the walls on the left side of the house. Then there was a loud explosion making her run outside. Paralyzed, Mattie, was still trapped in her room.
“I think she just panicked and I don’t know if they were trained at the facility for things like that,” McKay stated. “If not they need to be, but the more I think about it there’s a lot of unanswered questions.”
“I could see her whole bed on fire,” Bubba McGee explained. “She was burning up in the bed. I could see everything through this window right here, because I was still standing there. I tried to climb through that windows and everything and stuck my head in there and I could see the fire going around the ceiling and on the wall.”
Cutting his hands trying to climb through the back window Bubba couldn’t fight through the flames. Their frustration grew when firefighters allegedly ran out of water in their truck tanks, then seeing them drive past two fire hydrants within 50 yards of the house before refilling at this church on Haley St. They claim their mom was still trapped inside.
“They had to get water somewhere else and everything to put it in a truck before they put water in the house,” McGee told us. “Because it started on that end. I said she is burning up in the house and you need to put it out, but they were too late.”
A mother of 14, and loving grandmother, her family recalls her kindness.
“She kept feeding us, making sure we were fine,” Mattie’s grand daughter Myjoi McKay said. “She looked out on everyone, she was well known and respected.
We reached out to the Hazlehurst Fire Department for further comment on the investigation with what could have caused the fire and how their team responded but we have yet to hear back.