Teenager dies in NW Harris County house fire

November 4, 2010 4:21:42 PM PDT
A 14-year-old girl was killed, and several of her family members were injured, by a fire that destroyed their home overnight. Family members and friends are mourning the loss as fire investigators try to figure out what started the fire.

The Harris County Fire Marshal's Office is calling it an apparent accidental fire, and say it began on the first floor.

Until early this morning, this was a house full of life and a family. At 3am, it became a fire scene - one so intense that firefighters couldn't go inside for fear they'd be trapped.

The family members I believe was pointing to where the person was that was trapped in the home and at that time the house was totally involved and we knew it wasn't going to turn out right.

The person still inside was 14-year-old Shelby Friedsan, who was apparently trapped in her second floor bedroom. Her mother, stepbrother and stepfather were able to escape, perhaps thinking Shelby was waiting for them outside.

Her family and neighbors tried to reach her room by an outside ladder, but couldn't and then the second floor caved in.

Shelby was a student at Cy Creek High School - a 9th grader with good grades, a gymnast and popular.

Her best friends came to the house today looking at the home they'd often visit. It was too much for them to comprehend. And too much for Shelby's uncle as well.

"I was just anticipating Thanksgiving. My sister is an excellent cook, but it won't be the same. It won't be the same," said Walter Maciejecki.

Some of Shelby's classmates have left a memorial to Shelby in front of what's left of the family's house.

Fire officials told us the victim's family members are still in the hospital. The victim's mother suffered burns. The father and the brother were hospitalized with smoke inhalation.

Earlier Thursday

A family tragedy hit northwest Harris County when a 14-year-old girl was killed in a house fire overnight. Neighbors are in shock as firefighters try to determine what went wrong.

Three other people were injured in that fire, which erupted at about 3am Thursday morning.

"We prayed and we were hoping the child was able to get out," said neighbor Marie Sampson.

Dozens of neighbors where outside when firefighters rushed to the house in the 13000 block of Elmington Drive near Louetta.

"We were asleep and I could hear screaming," said neighbor Tori Childress. "I could hear someone screaming a name, and it woke me up. I got up to see what was going on and there was a fire across the street."

"One of the family members was pointing to where the person was trapped in the home," said Richard Ford of the Cypress Creek Volunteer Fire Department.

It was a 14-year-old girl in an upstairs bedroom. Neighbors tell Eyewitness News that the teen's family looked on helplessly as the girl yelled someone's name, crying out for help.

Firefighters say the house, partially collapsed, was fully engulfed in flames pushing back rescuers who tried to get to the teen. They never made it to her.

"I saw the parents and I saw the brother and I just couldn't image," said Marie Sampson.

Middle schooler Kedrick Sampson says the victim was supposed to ride the school bus with him this morning.

"It's just unbelievable," said Kedrick.

Parents in the neighborhood say this tragedy has hit too close to home.

"It's hard to think about somebody your kid's age dying," said neighbor Ann Steinkamp.

The fire is still under investigation.


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