A Columbus Middle School student died as the results of an early a.m. fire Thursday at Jamestown Apartments in East Columbus.
Oranjula Shanklin, 11, lost her life as she tried to escape from her townhouse during the fire.
On Wednesday, Columbus Municipal School District Superintendent Dr. Philip Hickman said the district would be offering grief counseling to those affected by Shanklin’s untimely passing.
“The Columbus Municipal School District is deeply saddened at the loss of our student, Oranjula Shanklin, whose life was claimed in the tragic fire on October 1 at the Jamestown Apartment complex on Forest Boulevard,” Hickman said. “We are working diligently to provide support in the form of grief counseling to teachers and students at all schools. In addition to our loss, we also remain hopeful that there will be a full recovery for our ninth grade student and others who were injured in this incident. Our prayers and condolences are extended to the families of all those impacted by this tragedy. The CMSD family is working to develop a coordinated response to help those who want to provide assistance in conjunction with community representatives. On behalf of myself, as superintendent, and the entire district, we will do whatever we can today and throughout this process to provide support to all involved. Please contact Jannette Adams, at 662-241-7400, if you have any questions or would like to help.”
Shanklin was the great-niece of Columbus Mayor Robert Smith.
According to Columbus Fire and Rescue Chief Martin Andrews, the fire started at approximately 1:57 a.m.
“Capt. Tommy Massey was the first on scene and he said one apartment was on fire at that time,” Andrews said.
The fire quickly spread, leaving three units destroyed at and least two more severely damaged.
Andrews said four people were rescued from another apartment. One child was airlifted to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, an adult was flown to a burn center and one other person was taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle by ambulance. Andrews said that all four survivors we believed to still be alive at press time.
“Columbus Fire and Rescue has heavy hearts with the death of young Miss Shanklin,” Andrews said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends and we are also praying for everyone affected by this fire. Our guys did a superb job, as did all of the emergency responders. The community support for these families in the aftermath has been outstanding.”
CFR Assistant Chief Mark Ward said the death was the first fire fatality in Columbus this year.
The fire is being investigated by CFR, Columbus Police Department and the state fire marshal’s office. Foul play is not suspected in the incident.
Community Outreach Coordinator Glenda Buckhalter on Wednesday said donations for the families affected by the fire can be dropped off at the Columbus Community Outreach center which is located in the building inspector’s office1