Prichard Fire Chief David Hale, Sr. said the department did all it could in a fire in Eight-Mile on Myers Road that killed 4-year-old Jean Paul Leonard.

Officials said the fire broke out some time before 2 pm Tuesday afternoon. Firefighters got an initial call about smoke around 1:58.

Chief Hale said the first crew was dispatched from the High Point Fire Station at that time. Hale said firefighters arrived on scene 4 minutes later. While they were en route, another call came in and the complaint was upgraded to a house fire. Hale said other engines were sent out at that time.

When they arrived on scene officials said they found the home burning. Hale said much of the fire was coming from the rear of the home and the side. They believe the fire was started by a faulty dryer.

"The only concerns that really threaten us was the progression of the fire when we arrived on scene," Hale said.

He said firefighters immediately started battling the blaze with the water in their trucks. However, Hale said the fire began to progress rapidly, keeping them from getting into the home to rescue the boy.

"We did have to make an initial defense attack upon making entry and search and rescue."

Hale said both fire engines on the scene were carrying 1,000 gallons of water. He said they also connected a fire hydrant only 100 feet away from the structure.

"The two units that responded, initially responded yesterday, each unit had 1000 gallons of water in it. So when we arrived on scene we had 2000 gallons of water to supply for fire suppression. More than enough to mitigate the situation that we had at hand," Hale explained.

Jean Paul Leonard

Family members said four-year-old Jean Paul Leonard was killed when his home on Meyers Road went up in flames around 2 p.m. on May 14.

It's no secret the city of Prichard's Fire Department has been plagued with many troubles over the past year. From not enough fire trucks, to broken fire hydrants, and less than a dozen certified firefighters, the department stayed in the headlines in 2018.

Chief Hale said it's a new day and things are improving. He added they have 22 certified firefighter, as of now, as opposed to about 10 a year ago and 4 more are graduating this week.

He also said the Bullshead/Arnold Station on Highway 45 which is only open on weekends will open 24/7 starting Monday. The Whistler station remains closed. Hale said it needs a lot of repairs.

Right now, Hale believes the focus should remain on the grieving family.

"There's too much attention being put on things that are irrelevant to what the family is actually going through right now. My heart and the rest of the fire dept and the city government's hearts are on the family right now," Hale explained.

Hale added that there are openings in Prichard for certified firefighters or aspiring firefighters willing to get certification. He said there are also some part-time firefighter openings.

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Toi Thornton is a Reporter. His Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism comes from Dillard University in 2014 and his Master's degree in New Media Journalism from Full Sail University in 2016. He previously worked as the Fox anchor in Lafayette, LA.

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