Tuesday, May 01, 2001

Children may have caused fatal fire




By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        READING — The weekend house fire that killed 3-year-old Cassey Nicole Robinson remained under investigation Monday as fire officials try to determine who started the deadly blaze.

        Cassey died Sunday when fire swept through the Reading home of family friends who were watching the youngster for the weekend while her parents were on a short vacation in Gatlinburg, Tenn., said Reading fire officials.

        The dead girl was identified Monday and is one of three juvenile suspects who may have started the fire at 8910 Reading Road, Fire Chief Kevin Kaiser said.

        He declined to detail the investigation but said “juvenile activity and curiosity are suspected” in the fire that gutted the home of Eugene and Brandi Lemmel.

        According to Chief Kaiser, Cassey was being kept for the weekend by the Lem mels as a favor for their friends Mark and Candace Robinson of Fairfield.

        Neither the Robinsons nor Lemmels were available for comment.

        About an hour before the fire began in the first-floor living room about 3:35 p.m., either Cassey, a 9-year-old girl from the neighborhood or another child about the same age may have done something near the sofa to start the blaze, Chief Kaiser said.

        “There is no indication of foul play ... but it only takes seconds for kids to find themselves in trouble,” said Chief Kaiser.

        The 9-year-old girl complained of back pain and trouble breathing after fleeing the fire, which caused $45,000 worth of damage. She was treated and released Sunday from Jewish Hospital.

        Firefighters discovered Cassey unconscious on the second floor by using a thermal imaging camera to see through thick smoke. She was taken by AirCare helicopter to University Hospital but was declared dead while on the hospital's heliport landing area.

        Chief Kaiser said the child's death is the first fire death in Reading since the early 1980s.

        Chief Kaiser said Cassey's death has taken a toll on firefighters.

        “Probably the hardest thing in fire services we have to deal with is the death of a child,” he said.

       



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