A faulty power cord to an air-conditioning unit was the cause of a horrific blaze that left Memphis firefighters in tears Monday, officials say. Six children and three adults died in the blaze, which the Memphis fire department says was the city's worst since a gas explosion killed 11 people in 1921. The children were between the ages of 3 and 17. WMC Action News 5 reports that a sole survivor, 7- or 8-year old Cameron Hollingsworth, is clinging to life in the hospital, where his condition is extremely critical. "He's fighting so hard. I went in to see him and I touched his hand," says Veronica Trammell, whose daughter and grandson died in the blaze.
"I don't know what to say. I don't know what to feel," Ernest Jett Jr., father of all seven children, tells the Commercial Appeal. "They was the best. They was drop-dead gorgeous. Smart. I mean, the most lovingest kids." Officials say that the home had a working smoke detector, but firefighters had to break down a security door to gain entry and most of the windows had iron bars over them. Memphis Fire Department Director Gina Sweat told a press conference Monday that the department urges people to install a quick-release device on windows that have security bars. "Our whole city is in mourning for the loss of much of one family," Mayor Jim Strickland said at the same press conference.