Cause of Fatal Durham Fire May Come Today
Posted February 11, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST
DURHAM — Investigators say they may reveal today what started an apartment fire that killed a little Durham girl around noon on Saturday.
Shanae Taylor died on her fifth birthday. Ironically, her mother, Malea Taylor, was at Shanae's grandmother's home, planning a surprise birthday party scheduled for 4 p.m. that day.
Shanae was in the care of her 16-year-old aunt Marnae. Marnae Taylor's 1-year-old son was also with them.
The flames moved so quickly, neither the aunt nor a neighbor who tried to help could rescue the child.
One investigator told WRAL that firefighters arrived at the Pike Street scene within three minutes of being called, but it was still too late.
"They knew there was a child trapped inside. They didn't know if she was alive or dead, and they were trying to find her," says assistant fire marshal Kelley Wimberly.
Firefighters found her crouched behind the scorched front door.
"She was trying to get out the front door," Wimberly says.
Wimberly says if the girl had known to try the back door, she might have made it out alive.
"I always hope that someone will see this and think, 'You know, I really need that fire plan in my house and to make sure my kids know how to get out,'" she says.
Wimberly suggests everyone have an escape plan that they rehearse regularly. Here are some things to make sure everyone in the house knows:
The family is staying at a local hotel with the help of the Red Cross.