Investigators say fire that killed 4-year-old was likely accidental

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- In the wake of a fire that killed a 4-year-old girl and left her 10-year-old in critical condition, firefighters are reminding people to check their smoke detectors.

Investigators looking into the incident believe the fire was likely accidental, but they do still want to talk to the family, said Capt. Hugh Chase of the Phoenix Fire Department. There was some concern initially that holiday decorations might have been to blame for the deadly fire, but investigators now say that does not appear to be the case.

While there was a smoke detector in the home, firefighters said it was in a closet in a hallway.

"Like many things we rely on for insurance, we forget about them easily. We discard them until we really need them," Chase said. "We need to be very careful about our smoke detectors. They are our eyes and ears and nose in the middle of the night when a fire occurs."

Chase said the entire family might have been able to escape the burning home safely had their smoke detector been working.

"Early detection is the key," he said. "The family would have been alerted much quicker."

Chase advised people to test their smoke detectors once a month and to make sure everybody in the family knows what they sound like and what to do in case of an emergency.

ORIGINAL STORY: 4-year-old killed, 10-year-old badly hurt in Phoenix house fire

PHOENIX -- A little girl was killed and her big sister is fighting for her life after an early morning house fire in Phoenix.

It happened at about midnight near Interstate 17 and Greenway Road.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, a mother and two children were outside. A 4-year-old and a 10-year-old were were still inside in a back bedroom.

"I kicked in the door and knew immediately that was the bedroom," said Brent Haugen of the Phoenix Fire Department. "I grabbed the 10-year-old from the bottom of the bunk bed and brought her out."

When he got the 10-year-old outside, he found out there was still another child in that room.

"I knew right where the bed was then, so I ran back in sure enough, the 4-year-old was on the top bunk bed," Haugen said.

Both of the little girls were badly injured and were in critical condition when they were taken to the hospital.

Capt. Dorian Jackson of the Phoenix Fire Department said the 4-year-old girl, who had been sleeping in the top bunk when the fire broke out, died at the hospital. The condition of the 10-year-old girl was not immediately available.

Firefighters said there was smoke detector in the house, but it was in a closet.

While it's not yet clear what sparked the fire, crews do believe it started at the front of the house in the living room.