Monday, April 30, 2001

Fire at sitter's kills girl, 3

Neighbor, firefighters unable to reach child on second floor

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        READING — A 3-year-old Fairfield girl died Sunday when fire swept through her baby sitter's home, trapping the child on the second floor.

        Fire officials said the search for the cause of the fire is being slowed by conflicting accounts of what happened, and it remained unclear who was in the Reading home when the fire broke out at 3:35 p.m.

        The blaze apparently started on the first floor at 8910 Reading Road, said Reading Safety-Service Director Mike Rahall.

        The baby sitter escaped uninjured and a second child, a 9-year-old girlwho lives next door, suffered a minor back injury as she fled.

        The home, estimated to be worth $40,000 to $50,000, was destroyed, officials said.

        When firefighters arrived to rescue the girl, they found the stairs leading to the second floor were burned out. By the time they entered the upstairs through a window, their rescue was in vain.

        The child, whose name was not released Sunday night, died while being transported to Children's Hospital.

        “We couldn't find her, because of the smoke and that the stairs were gone,” Mr. Rahall said. “The first floor was engulfed in seconds.”

        The 9-year-old was treated at Children's Hospital.

        Next-door neighbor Michael Wil liams, 48, said he ran into the home but was driven back by smoke.

        “The smoke was so bad, I couldn't see, I couldn't find the kids,” he said breathlessly as dozens of fire personnel blocked off Reading Road in the city's business district. “I was in there when they (firefighters) kicked the window in. I just barely made it out.”

        The 3-year-old girl's parents were in Tennessee on a weekend trip, but arrived at the scene early Sunday evening.


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