Phoenix police probing death of girl in house fire

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX (AP) -- Hours after Phoenix police visited a home where a 13-year-old girl was reported as a runaway, firefighters returned to find the house on fire and the teenager unconscious with burn injuries. She later died.

Firefighters found Briana Naylor in a bedroom of the Phoenix home on Thursday with burns on her arms and legs, and in cardiac arrest, said fire Capt. Jonathan Jacobs.

Police had been called to the home around 1 a.m. Thursday by Naylor's mother, who told them her daughter ran away. The two had been arguing, but Naylor returned home while officers were on scene and they saw no need for further action, police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said Friday.

About 10 a.m. Thursday, firefighters responded to a call from a neighbor who saw smoke coming from the back of the house. The girl was the only person in the home.

Authorities believe the fire was suspicious, and they are trying to figure out what ignited the blaze. When firefighters entered the home, smoke was at knee-level.

"Anytime you have a 13-year-old who dies in a home because of fire, that's a question we always would ask, `is it suspicious?'" Thompson told The Associated Press. "A normal, otherwise healthy girl that dies, we would call that suspicious."

A neighbor, Gail Hanson, said that she immediately saw smoke when she walked out her back door. She said Naylor lived at the home with her mother and two brothers.

Authorities say it's unclear whether the home had smoke detectors or if they were working. The Arizona Republic reported that investigators removed a mattress from the scene.

Family members gathered Thursday night for a prayer service. Naylor's aunt, Evelyn Hinton, said the young girl who was just shy of her 14th birthday, had her whole life ahead of her.

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