West Phoenix Fire Claims Teen Life

Following a fire in a west Phoenix apartment on a Sunday morning, a 14-year-old girl was tragically killed. Her mother and three siblings are alive, but in critical condition.

The tragedy occurred very early on the morning of March 23, 2014. Firefighters responded to reports of a fire in a second floor home of an apartment building, according to Captain Jonathan Jacobs. The firefighters fought through heavy smoke and were able to extinguish the fire quickly, subsequently finding the victims. A Phoenix police officer who was also at the scene, James Holmes, stated that a firefighter kicked open the door to a bedroom and found the family.

Holmes told the Associated Press that the firefighter discovered the five victims, who were a 33-year-old mother and her four children. All were in the bedroom and unconscious. He further reported that the mother and a 10-year-old child were in critical condition at the hospital. Two more children, three years old and three months old, are said to be in extremely critical, but stable condition.

Officer Holmes stated that there is a belief that the fire might have been intentionally set because of domestic violence. He included that a person of interest has been found.

Because of the blaze, around 30 additional residents of the apartment building have been evacuated. There were electrical damage and additional issues because of the fire that were believed to be safety hazards to the residents.

Jennifer Sheppard is one of the residents in question. She and her four children live in a two-bedroom apartment downstairs from the victims on the first floor. She stated that she was very grateful that a neighbor knocked on her door and awoke her 14-year-old son, who alerted her. Sheppard claimed she had not heard or felt anything. She and her children quickly escaped the building barefoot after seeing how severe of a fire was ablaze.

Sheppard stated that the heat of the fire just hit her face in a very sudden manner. Once they were outside, she and her kids watched as firefighters carried the children from the upstairs apartment over their shoulders. They then proceeded to perform CPR to the kids on the ground.

Sheppard stated that she did not know the family well, and she never noticed any signs of domestic violence between the mother and her boyfriend, who also lived in the home. She added that she normally noticed the kids playing on the balcony when they were outside.

Hayla Miller, a 12-year-old girl who lives in another part of the building, was close friends with the 14-year-old girl who died. She stated that she and her friend always made one another laugh, she was fun to be around, and nice to everyone.