Local News

5-year-old rescued from Rocky Mount house fire

Posted January 6, 2012

— Firefighters in Rocky Mount had to rescue a 5-year-old girl trapped inside a burning house late Thursday.

Investigators said Friday that six children were home alone at 927 Stokes St. when the fire broke out shortly before 11 p.m.

The oldest of the children – 14-years-old Taniya Wiggins – was able to get four of her siblings – ages 12, 6, 3 and 11 months – safely out of the house.

Firefighters found Taylor Wiggins on the floor of her bedroom about three minutes after arriving at the scene.

"It’s a very fortunate situation that she was the only child in there," said firefighter Brad Price, who helped in the rescue. "All we can do now is pray that she makes a full recovery."

She was taken to a local hospital and then transferred to the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill for treatment.

Authorities said Friday afternoon that the girl is breathing almost completely on her own and should be released soon.

Investigators said the fire started after food cooking on a stove had been left unattended.

The children's mother was not at home at the time, authorities said, and had left the 14-year-old to supervise the younger children.

Taniya Wiggins Teen saves siblings from house fire

Neighbors said the mother had been at home but had made a quick trip to the store when the fire broke out. She returned as firefighters were arriving.

It's unclear whether the mother could face charges. Police have contacted the Edgecombe County Department of Social Services about the case. The agency said it is reviewing the case but that it is not allowed to comment.

Under North Carolina law, however, there's no specific age in juvenile code about the age at which a child may be left home alone. State fire code, however, states no child under the age of 8 can be left alone without appropriate supervision.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, parents must consider the child's maturity and whether he or she is capable of properly caring for younger siblings.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • justcommonsense Jan 6, 2012

    For those who are condemning the mother for not being at home at 11PM and leaving the younger children in the care of a 14 yr old....get over it.

    Like others here I was babysitting at 12 for my 5 siblings as well as the children of my parent's friends. Many a time it would be for full weekends so it was my responsibility to ensure they stayed out of trouble, safe and were fed.

    During the summer there would be many times when I was "in charge" of 10-11 kids at one time. I didn't feel put out by it (except when some didn't see fit to pay for my services).

    This could have (and has if you pay attention to the news) to anyone with 2 parents at home.

  • jlmatt Jan 6, 2012

    @Smith73 So if you were cooking and oh no you don't have this ingredient you thought you had but you already started you would not run to the store?

  • jlmatt Jan 6, 2012

    The complete lack of reading comprehension in these comments is giving me a headache. The article states that the mother ran to the store and returned as the firefighters arrived.

    I am sure the scenario laid out by hazeyc is pretty close to what happened.

    I was babysitting for 8+ hours a day during the summer at 12. Working closer to 12 hours during the summer at 14. Asking a 14 year old to watch her siblings while mom runs out to the store is not something that should even lead to the speculation of charges being filed.

    Should the 14 year old kept a better watch on the cooking? yes. Things like this happen and as horrible as it is it probably would have happened even if mom was home.

    I am glad the 14 year old had the presence of mind to get the children out. I hope the 5 year old continues to recover and is back with her family soon.

  • Smith73 Jan 6, 2012

    The article states that the mother left to go to the store. Couldn't that have been done well before 11PM? So thankful the oldest was able to help her siblings.

  • hazeyc Jan 6, 2012

    Let paint this picture - all kids asleep or in bed including the 14 yo. Mom tell 14 yo she is running up to the store. Smoke alarm goes off and 14 yo starts rounding up the kids from their rooms. She is carrying the youngest and making sure the other young ones are following. She couldn't find the 5 yo because she was hiding. Nobody did anything wrong here except leave something cooking on the stove.

    Kudos to the 14 yo for her quick thinking and efforts to save the kids. Thank goodness for the fire dept quick response.

  • JJ20 Jan 6, 2012

    "OMG people...I was PAID to babysit others' kids at 12 years old, not to mention being a latch-key kid responsible for my younger sister! Think before you spout! This 14yr old could probably care for her siblings a lot better than some adults here, as she obviously gets lots of practice helping out her mom. Praying for all involved and glad she was able to think fast enough & remain calm enough to get the others out."

    Very true. I've experienced a fire as well before (neighbor's fault, engulfed whole apartment building), and I can 100% tell you, if I was 14 years old, I'd have no idea what to do if I was left alone. Obviously, this mother trusted her 14 year old and it seems like either she told her 12 year old sister to do the same (grab a child), or she just did it on her own. Looking at NC's definition of being a "mature" babysitter, it seems like she fits it.

  • Uhavenoclu Jan 6, 2012

    It angers me when sooooo many people will take 2-3 bits of information and decide what was right or wrong, and who did what, and why. Way too many judgments going on here. And, btw - 14 and 12 year olds are old enough to babysit.

    It's called Seeing the chaos and void,they see or read or hear the first thing and take it for granted without looking into the facts and truth and filling the void.
    Appearance is only an illusion.

  • Uhavenoclu Jan 6, 2012

    Funny how all of a sudden news stories always pop up the same as before?.
    Since the other day when the guy was saved in Oxford there have been more of people being saved in house fires.
    Just like after the Penn state thing there was arash of teachers and athletic college coaches molesting boys?.
    Gues it's true like does attract like.?

  • Ambygirl Jan 6, 2012

    BlueForever do you know how many 'significant others' she had?? It's not is this story anywhere. For all you know, she may have had only one......or do you know her? Or are you psychic? Amazing how much speculation there is here..

  • BlueForever Jan 6, 2012

    "significant other?"
    Sounded like with 6 kids the mother had way to many "significant others." I guess you believe in the tooth fairy too.