UPDATE: Children of Fire Survivor Share Their Mother’s Story

UPDATE: Children of Fire Survivor Share Their Mother's Story (Image 1)


The survivors and their families are rejoicing, happy to have made it out.  But in the aftermath of the fire, the whirlwind of events were quite emotional.

Etta Wilcher can vividly recall the mood of her neighbors on the third floor right after the fire started.

“Have you seen Jim? Have you seen Bob?,” she said remembering the atmosphere during the tragic time.

The 81-year-old is one of nearly 90 senior citizens fire crews had to help evacuate after Marshall Square Retirement Complex caught fire.  

“We had a note given to us that when the fire alarm goes off you stay in your room and wait for instructions and that’s exactly what I did,” Wilcher said.

Her room, located on the third floor which is now barely there, required a fire bucket to get out. 

“I left lots of things behind.  You know, God took care of me and most everybody there and I don’t have any complaints,” said Welcher, who have been in the home since November. 

“She saw flames so she came back into her apartment and she then shut herself in bathroom and she saw the building falling apart all around her and she said this is probably my time,” said Rhetta Cadle’s son, Wesley.

The children of 82-year-old Rhetta Cadle said they were planning their mother’s funeral until they heard the good news that she was in fact alive.  The news is no surprise for the children of the great-grandmother who is also a stroke survivor.

Suzanne Strehle, Rhetta’s daughter said very tearfully, “She’s just a very strong willed, tenacious woman and if there was anyone who was going to survive this it would be my mom.”

“I told someone the other day,  I planned to die here, but I didn’t want it to be yesterday. I didn’t want it to come so soon.  But, that’s just how much I loved it.  I wanted to be there forever,” Wilcher said. 

Wilcher added her neighbor, Dorothy “Dot” Carpenter, who died in the fire, was very sweet, very pretty and loved to get her hair done.  

Cadle’s kids stated their mother’s beloved cat, Bootsie is still missing from the fire as well.  He is about 12 with long gray hair and white paws.

Southern Souls Rescue has stepped up and stated it can help with vet services, such as boarding and food for any furbabies that need help from the fire. 


A press conference is underway at Joseph M. Still Burn Center with the children of Rhetta Cadle.

Cadle was one of two people missing Tuesday morning as fire crews worked to put out a blaze at Marshall Square Retirement Resort. She was later found in the stairwell of the building.

Right now Cadle is being treated for smoke inhalation and is traumatized, but luckily received no burns.

Suzanne Strehele and Wesley Cadle, the victim’s children, tell reporters that they were at home planning a funeral because they lost their mother. Her son shares that his mother saw the flames and shut herself in the bathroom, accepting that it was “probably her time”.

Cadle’s 12-year-old, long-hair cat is still missing. He is grey with white paws and answers to the name Bootsie.

WJBF News Channel 6’s Renetta DuBose is at the press conference and will have more coming up at 5, 6, and 11.

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