By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Fire engulfed a home a few blocks southwest of the Square early Thursday morning, killing one of its occupants and badly injuring another.
Patricia Wilkerson, 54, was transported to Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi but died shortly after arrival. A former resident of Vicksburg, she was a senior administrative assistant at the Small Business Development Center at the University of Mississippi and an active volunteer for several local organizations.
Firefighters were called to the scene at 12:33 a.m. and found the home fully involved. Despite smoke that had already reached floor level, one team was able to find Frances Brown and get her out of the house.
A Baptist Memorial Hospital spokesman confirmed that Brown had been transferred to another facility but could not confirm or deny a report that she was sent to an out-of-state burn center.
Hill said he was gratified by the work of his firefighters.
“One guy stays on the wall and holds on to the other. The second guy reaches out to feel his way around the room,” he said. “It’s amazing that they were able to find the first lady.
“When they went in the front door, there was zero visibility,” he said. “It was so hot, the face shield on one fireman’s helmet melted. I can’t say enough about what a great job they did.”
An autopsy will be performed on Wilkerson’s body. While no foul play is suspected from preliminary findings, state and local fire officials will continue their investigation.