A 36-year-old woman and her 7-year-old son are dead.
And a charred, hollowed-out structure is all that remains after the fire that took their lives Wednesday night in Coushatta.
Firefighters were called to a commercial building that has been converted into apartment units in the 100 block of East Carroll Street about 10:45 p.m., the fire marshal’s office reports.
Killed were Marie Thomas and her son Billy Ray, relatives said.
The family members recalled how Marie and her older son had made it out safely but soon realized that Billy Ray likely was still inside.
Marie reportedly last was seen running back into the burning building to save him.
Firefighters later discovered their bodies in a downstairs unit.
Friends of the family said this all still feels surreal, like it hasn’t really happened.
“You know, one minute you’re talking to somebody, the next minute they’re gone, you know,” Rodney Bamburg said. “It’s just like I’m in shock.”
Loved ones at the scene said that Bubba Thomas had just stepped out for a few minutes after plugging in an electric space heater. He went a few houses down the road then spotted the flames as he began walking home.
Bubba Thomas now is inconsolable and blames himself for the deaths, his uncle Milton Grantham said.
“He’s going through a hard, hard time. He’s blaming himself. And I told him, and I said, ‘Roger, son, you didn’t know. You can’t blame yourself. We don’t never know what’s going to happen, you know’,” Grantham said.
“It’s bad, it’s bad. I don’t know.”
The loss is compounded by the timing, less than a week before Christmas, family members said.
Burn marks on the building now testify to the tragedy that unfolded Wednesday night.
But there’s also a badly damaged vehicle in the carport. That’s because the person who lives upstairs badly crushed the roof when he jumped from the second floor to save himself.
And when he did, he landed right on the car.
Now survivors of Marie Thomas and Billy Ray are working to set up a GoFundMe account in the coming days as the reality of this nightmare begins to sink in for friends and family members alike.