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Candle, Paper Sparked Fire That Killed Young Sisters

Posted February 15, 2008

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— A candle and a piece of paper sparked a fire that resulted in the death of two young sisters in a Harnett County mobile home on Thursday night, authorities said Friday.

It was unclear, however, what led to the paper catching fire. The items were in the girls'  mother's bedroom, where the girls were.

Three girls, all under 7, were alone in the mobile home when the fire started around 11:30 p.m. at the Overlook Mobile Home Park at 40 Mallie Drive.

Arianna Squires-Simmons, 3, and Kaliyah Simmons, 20 months, died. Their sister, Janaya Squires, 6, tried to save them, according to Robert Davis Jr., who said he witnessed the fire and tried to help.

“I tried to get in there. I wanted to get in there. I was trying to save them,” he said.

Davis said he noticed that the mobile home behind his was covered in smoke and flames. He then saw Janaya stumbling out the front door, he said.

Janaya wanted to go back inside to save her two younger sisters, Davis said, so he ran into the burning home to try to save them.

“(It) feels like you were in an oven, that someone turned an oven on real high and put you in it,” he said.

Davis said he was forced to get out before he could save the two girls. Standing helpless outside, Davis said he saw one of the girls at a window, but she quickly vanished. Other witnesses said they briefly saw one of the girls' hands on the window.

“They was crying, the babies. Then all of a sudden, I heard them stop crying,” he said. "That's gonna bother me for awhile."

The girls' mother left them home alone for just a few minutes, Harnett County sheriff's officials said.

"Just prior to the fire, the mother, Echo Simmons, had left the residence to take her mother home, which is approximately 2 miles from the residence," according to a news release. "The children were left at the residence. The mother arrived back at the residence just as the neighbor discovered the fire."

Authorities said they had not decided whether to file charges.

Fire units were at the scene within nine minutes after the 911 call, authorities said, but the home was fully engulfed in flames by that time. Fire officials later found the two girls' bodies inside the home.

The Harnett County Sheriff’s Office and Fire Marshal’s Office and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation are investigating the fire.

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  • begoodglo Feb 15, 2008

    My heart goes out to this mother. We think just going to run her mom home only 2 mile up the street was oh so short of a distance, Yeah it was and that's how quick a accident can happen.None of us are perfect. I remember leaving my daughter in her high chair just to run to the mailbox to get the mail and that wasn't two miles only a inch from the house and I now think of many things that could had happen for me just going to the mailbox. this was truely an accident, bad judgement and neglect but how many of us are guilty of something that could have turned bad

  • dawngerrell Feb 15, 2008

    People, it's fine and dandy to say "we shouldn't pass judgement" and all this jazz, but let me make something clear. I am a mother of a 3 yr old, and therefore my mother has a 3 yr old granddaughter. My mother would NEVER allow me to leave not only 1 child at home, but we're talking about 3 kids!!!! This is what is wrong with the world today, the sweet child that survived needs to be placed with someone who can care for her properly and the mother and grandmother need to be jailed for leaving those poor kids behind!!!!

  • Common Sense Man Feb 15, 2008

    "Never not even for a moment would I ever leave my children out of my eyesight for any period of time"

    Well now I know there are perfect parents in this world. Come on!

  • islandgirl Feb 15, 2008

    PLESE DON'T LEAVE YOUR CHILDREN HOME ALONE, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.... I DON'T HAVE ANY KIDS AND I WATCH MY GODCHILDREN ALL THE TIME, AND I WOULDNT EVEN LEAVE THEM IN THE CAR OR HOME ALONE.... THIS IS A HORRIBLE STORY, THOSE POOR KIDS WHO DIED IN THAT FIRE...AND THE OLDEST SISTER AND NEIGHBOR WHO TRIED GOING BACK IN THE HOUSE TO SAVE THE OTHER TWO KIDS, YOU ARE HERO'S AND I PRAY THAT THE TWO OF YOU AND EVERYONE INVOLVE, I PRAY THAT YOU ALL WILL FIND PEACE WITH WHATS HAPPEN..... FOR THE MOTHER, YOU HAVE LOST TWO PRECIOUS YOUNGS KIDS WITHIN MINUTES OF LEAVING THEM UNATTENDED, ITS TOO LATE TO SAY, WISH YOU SHOULDNT HAVE DONE THAT, AND ITS TOO LATE TO GO BACK TO RIGHT BEFORE IT HAPPENED, BUT I PRAY THAT YOU TOO CAN FIND PEACE WITH WHATS HAPPEN...... PRAYING FOR EVERYONE INVOLVE....

  • Common Sense Man Feb 15, 2008

    The flashback of seeing that child at the window and hearing the crying would haunt me forever. I hope Mr. Davis deals with it and gets through it. God bless the remaining family too.

  • ITLAWYER Feb 15, 2008

    This guys is still a hero. He tried! Poor babies! God bless them all.

  • VT1994Hokie Feb 15, 2008

    My last statement was: PROTECT YOUR MOST VALUABLE RESOURCES!!! Don't leave your little kids alone for any amount of time. They said 5 minutes away from home, but, how can anyone know?

    Children die everyday in a blick-of-an-eye. I hope that some parents who read this will think twice about this terrible thing, and not leave children alone; to light candles nor anything else.

  • VT1994Hokie Feb 15, 2008

    I will agree with claudnc. Revrb. I am still trying to check you out. I didn't read everything on here, but, I think that you are way off base. Please forgive me. I find it hard to believe some of the comments on here anyway, but, I sincerely do feel sorry for the children and the mother. Regardless. If she has a heart and compassion she will never get over this. In my opinion. I do not know her backgroud.

    This should go out to anyone with kids at home. Don't assume anything!!!! Protect your most valuable resources!!!!

  • meh_whatever Feb 15, 2008

    This is such a sad story. :(

    On the one hand, I can see why she figured they'd be okay for just a few minutes while she ran her mother home.

    On the other, if she left a candle burning, I'm wondering why.

    I'm so odd about fires burning in my house.

    Then again, perhaps the 6 year old lit the candle once her mother was gone?

    *sigh*

    Very sad.

    I would never condemn this woman, because I am not her, and I do not know what she intended. I will assume that she intended to run her mother home, and that she didn't intend harm to her children, and that she either forgot the candle, or it wasn't burning when she left the house.

    Very sad story. Bless that poor neighbor, I'm sure he won't be able to sleep at night for awhile.

  • the river rat Feb 15, 2008

    For the moderator:

    I was going to try to write a post that would pass muster, but why bother. The mother is to blame, end of story.

    Obviously it's acceptable on this forum to rave endlessly about an imaginary friend and anyone that challenges this must be silenced.

    Have a good day.

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