House fire in Winona

A mother and her three young children died Monday during a fire at a residence in the 18400 block of Devonne Drive, off of U.S. 271 in the Starrville area of Smith County.

The adult who died in a Winona-area house fire Monday along with three young children has been identified as their 24-year-old mother. All of the children were younger than 5.

Smith County Fire Marshal Jay Brooks identified the woman who died Tuesday as Brittany Stewart. He also released the ages of the deceased children as 5, 2 and 1.

The names of the children are not being released pending family notification.

“It is with great sadness that I must report that four people perished in the house fire,” Brooks said. “A woman and three children were unable to make it out.”

The fire began at around 11:30 a.m. Monday at a residence in the 18400 block of Devonne Drive, off of U.S. 271 in the Starrville area of Smith County behind the Starrville Church of the Living God.

A volunteer White Oak firefighter who was in the area stopped to help a man who was attempting to put the fire out and rescue family members inside the burning home.

The man was later identified by Brooks as Edwin Harris, 31. Harris was transported to a Tyler hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Brooks said Harris is the father of at least one of the children.

The cause of the house fire remains under investigation, and officials expect the inquiry to take weeks.

While the cause of the fire remains unknown, Brooks said no witnesses at the scene reported hearing smoke detectors from the home.

Brooks said before the fire, a wood-burning stove was in use at some point, but it’s unknown if the stove was actively in use during the blaze.

He added there is no evidence of foul play.

“The key witness that we need to interview is Mr. Harris. And just because of his injuries, we haven’t had a chance to speak with him,” he said. “That is something we’re very much needing to do.”

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