Mother, toddler die in Jefferson County fire, father taken to burn unit hospital

Photo by Gene Littrell via WJBD

An early Sunday morning fire in Mt. Vernon has claimed the life of a young mother and her infant son, authorities say.

According to WJBD, authorities were called at 5:34 a.m. to the 1200 block of South 24th Street to battle a blaze at a small single story home.

Jefferson County Coroner Roger Hayse identified two people in the home after the fire was knocked down: 18-year-old Ashley Cheatum and her 14-month-old son Brendon Pauling. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

The boy’s father — Cody Pauling — was reportedly burned after he had attempted to reach his family during the fire. Authorities say he was outside the home once the emergency personnel arrived. He was taken to SSM Health Good Samaritan Hospital in Mt. Vernon and then later transferred to a burn center in Springfield.

The fire had also spread to a nearby home. Mt. Vernon police were able to beat down the door to the home and the occupants left the house uninjured.

A cause has yet to be determined. Other agencies on scene include Jefferson Fire Protection District and Kell and Woodlawn fire departments. The home where the fire originated is considered a total loss.

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