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Firefighters give Waldorf fire victims a hero's sendoff

WALDORF, Md. (WUSA9) Several Charles County fire departments gave a great grandmother and her grandson killed in a Waldorf house fire last week a touching send-off that's usually reserved for one of their own. .

They didn’t know 6-year-old Zavion Atkins personally until that fatal day.

“I was on the truck company that had went inside initially, inside to do the search for to missing people,” said Waldorf Volunteer Firefighter Quentin Mills.

“The whole alpha bravo quadrants of the house fire were engulfed in flames,” said Waldorf Firefighter Chris Garrett.

See photos from the funeral

After the 911 call, it took more than ten minutes to get through back roads according to a fire official. Garrett, a father himself, was first on the scene.

“It was the most helpless I ever felt in my life,” Garrett said. 

Both the Malcolm Elementary student and his matriarch great-grandmother Bernice Washington died in that fire. Last week, family members described Washington, 68, as a woman who lived for others.

Of Atkins, they said he loved dirt bikes and four-wheelers. But when firefighters learned Atkins also had a love of fire trucks, and would even stop playing to wave as one passed, they couldn’t say no to the family’s request to be part of Wednesday’s funeral.

“I used to do it as a kid so I definitely understand,” said Mills.

But they didn’t just attend. Firefighters served as pallbearers and carried both caskets out. The 6-year-old’s casket went on a fire truck, much like the ones he’s seen touring in a photo Atkins’ mother gave to Hughesville Fire Spokesperson Caryn McMahon.

“Our firefighters remember him from the prevention and the school from national night out at Malcolm School,” she said at Wednesday’s service. She called the photo priceless.

“It’s sad that he won’t be able to do what we do or come see a fire truck and hopefully this will give the family some happiness,” said firefighter Woodrow Price.

Two ladder trucks held up an American Flag at the cemetery entrance as a hero’s send-off.

Officials identified the cause of that fire as an overloaded extension cord.

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Overloaded extension cord caused fatal Waldorf house fire​

Beloved matriarch and great grandson killed in Waldorf house fire


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