Local News

Mom Charged in Fire That Killed Daughters

Posted February 25, 2008 11:43 a.m. EST
Updated February 25, 2008 8:25 p.m. EST

— Authorities on Monday charged a Sanford woman in the fire that claimed the lives of two of her three daughters earlier this month.

Echo Tonisha Simmons, 24, faces two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of misdemeanor child abuse. She could serve almost five years in jail for each count of involuntary manslaughter if convicted.

She was arrested Monday morning and released on $5,000 secured bond. Simmons refused to comment on the charges against her as she left court.

According to reports, Simmons' three girls, all under 7, were alone in the mobile home when the fire started around 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 14 at the Overlook Mobile Home Park at 40 Mallie Drive.

Simmons had left them home alone for a few minutes, Harnett County sheriff's officials said. She was taking her mother to her home, approximately 2 miles away.

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.

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.

Davis said the fire forced him back before he could reach the two girls.