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Child Dies after Accidental Kitchen Fire

4/22/2005

CONTACT:  Detective David Cheers
(904) 798-5804
 
STARKE- A baby left alone in a Starke home while the grandmother went next-door to make a phone call died Thursday after a grease fire in the kitchen spread throughout the home.
 
Investigators from the State Fire Marshal's Office responded to the scene and determined the fire started on the stovetop. The fire will be ruled accidental.
 
"This is a tragic example of how important it is to never leave a stove unattended – never," said Florida's Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher.  "My sympathy and prayers go out to the family."
 
At approximately 5 p.m. Thursday, Bradford County firefighters responded to a reported trailer fire at 5230 N.W. 177th Ave. in Starke. Upon arrival, they found the home heavily involved in fire and was told that a child was still inside. Efforts to save the child were unsuccessful.
 
The child's grandmother, who also lived in the home, told investigators she had begun melting grease on the kitchen stove to prepare for dinner after placing the child on the living room couch.  Shortly thereafter, she walked to a neighboring house to use the telephone. When she returned, she found the kitchen and living room on fire. Bystanders attempted to extinguish the flames with a garden hose, but were unable to do so.
 
"All evidence in this case points to an accidental fire occurring within the kitchen," said Detective Robby Stephens of the State Fire Marshal's Office. "But due to the circumstances leading up to the fire, we will review the case with the State Attorney and determine at a later date if criminal charges will be filed."
 
The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is a law enforcement branch of the Division of State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local fire and law enforcement agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious origin.  Anyone with information about this case or any incident of fire is asked to call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NOARSON).