Toddler killed, two injured in mobile home fire

February 6, 2011 8:11:02 PM PST
A little girl is dead and her grandmother severely burned after a fire in Montgomery County. Investigators say a 10-year-old boy tried to save them.

The flames broke out Sunday morning. Neighbors had rushed to help.

The little girl ended up trapped in the home off Henry Harris Loop and FM 1485.

When firefighters arrived at the Montgomery County mobile home this morning, it was engulfed and not everyone was out.

"We were pretty confident, unfortunately, a few minutes into the fire that there was a child inside," said Chief Raymond Flannelly of the Caney Creek Volunteer Fire Department.

Nothing remains of the mobile home where three people were staying overnight. It was so cold last night that all three were sleeping in the same bed -- a 70-year-old great grandmother, her 10-year-old grandson and a 16-month-old great granddaughter. It was the baby who did not survive.

By the time firefighters got to the burning mobile home little could be done to save 16-month -old Anna Stanfield. Officials say a nearby space heater may have started the fire.

Neighbors say Joyce and Jake Stanfield got out of the home, then realized baby Anna was still inside. Joyce Stanfield then rushed back into the burning home.

"I ran over there and when that boy come out, there was so much smoke that I couldn't get in. I saw a woman's leg, so I pulled her out. My wife brought a blanket and we wrapped her up," said neighbor John Weeks. ""You do what you gotta do, I was scared. It was a bad way to start my morning off."

Family members say Joyce Stanfield was burning on her arms and face as she tried to get through heavy flames. Eventually she passed out from breathing smoke and it was her 10-year-old grandson Jake who helped rescue the 70-year-old.

For those closest to the family that lived here, the loss is so much to bear.

"She's crying and it's a lot for her right now. She's going through a lot," said Susie Sanchez, a friend of the family.

"It's pretty upsetting. They haven't lived there very long and not many people knew them, but knowing that it didn't take that long for a mobile home to go up in flames -- it's unnerving," said neighbor Donna Atchison.

The temperatures overnight were in the 30s. Firefighters say the cause of the blaze is still under investigation, but the fire marshal tells us the 10-year-old who survived pointed to the space heater kept close to the bed as the possible cause of the deadly blaze.

Firefighters told us space heaters have kept them very busy in recent weeks.

"Almost every night of the recent cold snap, we're seeing fires throughout our area. We tell people to give those space heaters some space. Keep it three feet away from anything that would burn," said Jimmy Williams, Montgomery County Fire Marshal.

The great grandmother was flown to Galveston to be treated for burns. Joyce Stanfield is in critical condition with burns on 30 to 40 percent of her body.

While investigators found smoke detectors in the home, they are trying to determine if they were working. They add that these pictures should be a reminder of how important that can be.

"As a resident, the true thing to do for yourself is to have a working smoke detector and check it, because they really do save your life," said Chief Flannelly.

An autopsy will be done on the baby girl this week.

The boy has been treated and released.

It was the second child fatality for this small volunteer fire department in two months -- in December a 2-year-old boy was killed.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers these space heater safety tips:

    Keep heaters on a level, nonflammable surface at least three feet from furniture and drapes
    Do not put heaters next to a bed
    Never leave them on when you go to sleep or in an unattended room

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, space heaters cause 25,000 house fires in the U.S. every year. Those fires lead to more than 300 deaths. Another 6,000 people have to go to the emergency room for burns they suffered when they touched the hot surface of a heater.