Brandy Hester, 26, died early Thursday morning in a fire that burned he Rising Fawn home to the ground.
Dade County Sheriff Ray Cross said a 911 call came through about 1 a.m. from the Hester home next door to DJ’s Convenience Store on Highway 11 South. The Sheriff’s Department and Dade volunteer fire departments responded, but while they were en route another call came through that one of the family members was unaccounted for and might still be in the house.
They were too late to save her. When fire crews arrived, the house was already fully engulfed, and Ms. Hester's body was recovered only when the flames had been doused.
Sgt. Chad Payne, information officer with the Dade Sheriff’s Department, could not say if it was smoke inhalation or some other cause that caused the young woman’s death.“She was upstairs on the second floor,” he said “It collapsed.”
The home was next door to DJ's, a convenience store next to the Alabama border.
Nine people lived in the home, located in South Dade a stone’s throw from the Alabama border, according to Lacy Hester, who described herself as the deceased woman’s ex-mother-in-law. All were asleep at the time of the fire, she said, except her son, 27, and Brandy Hester, who she also believed to be awake. The young man was in the kitchen fixing himself something to eat when the fire started, said Ms. Hester. “It was a grease fire,” she said.
Three generations lived in the home, including grandparents and the deceased’s two young children. Sheriff Cross and Sgt. Payne said two of the family had been transported to the hospital to be checked out for minor injuries but that no one else had been seriously injured.
Sheriff Cross said he didn’t know why the young man was cooking in the middle of the night, whether he worked the night shift or was awake at that hour for some other reason.
An investigation is still ongoing, and law enforcement officers have taped the scene of the fire off.
This morning, nothing remains to be seen in any case but the block foundation and a plaster of paris statue of a boy out front that survived the flames oddly white and unscathed. A white duck flaps and quacks amid the ruins, and surviving family members look numbly at the ruins of their home from the next-door neighbors’ yard.
“At the end of the day, two kids lost their mama,” said Sgt. Payne.